What measures to take post 'COVID-19 vaccination'?
A recent YouTube video has been doing rounds on social media which discusses the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. The man is seen to be endorsing Infowars, a popular vaccine misinformation channel and raises hypothetical questions on post vaccination protocol with a computerized voice claiming to be a representative of the CDC. The objective of the video is to mislead people on the pretext that the COVID-19 vaccines are not going to be effective/work at all. Let us now verify the claims made in the video.
Source: YouTube video
Question 1: Post-vaccination, can I stop wearing a mask at all; either one or two?
Fact: Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting unvaccinated people but this does not mean that the vaccine isn’t effective.
According to CDC guidelines, while fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, they should continue to take all COVID-19 precautions including wearing a mask, practicing social distancing in order to break the chain of transmission to the unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
Question 2: Can we go back to normalcy and will everything be reopened after the vaccination?
Fact: While the return to normalcy will be slow considering that the entire population must be vaccinated, it is important to continue to take necessary precautions in public in order to break the chain of transmission.
The CDC says that, while vaccines prepare your body to fight the virus if you are exposed, masks and social distancing help reduce the chances of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Since the world is still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19, it necessary to continue to take precautions in public places or when you are with unvaccinated people until community transmission is substantially reduced along with the decrease in deaths and hospitalizations.
Question 3: Does full vaccination assure complete immunity against COVID-19 and stop the transmission to others?
Fact: The vaccine is not 100% effective and we still do not know if someone who was vaccinated can develop asymptomatic infection and transmit the virus.
According to evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are 95% and 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness. Thus, the vaccines are not 100% effective.
However, according to John Hopkins University, we are still learning whether or not the current COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, an immunized person could still be an asymptomatic carrier and spread the disease to others. It is not yet ensured that the vaccinated individuals are less likely to transmit the disease.
Question 4: How long will the vaccine effect last post the vaccination?
Fact: It is still uncertain how long the impact lasts but the results from phase 3 trials and people who have been vaccinated outside the trials are being monitored.
According to John Hopkins University, we do not yet know how long protection lasts following vaccination but it will be critically important to measure long-term protection (at least two years) in the phase 3 trials and by following people who have been vaccinated outside of the trials. We are still learning about the duration of protection following infection with SARS-CoV-2 and it is too early to tell how long protection will last. There have already been cases where individuals have been shown to be infected twice but most often the second illness was mild or without any symptoms. This is what we would expect from an immune response that protects against the disease but not infection.
Question 5: What is the benefit of taking the COVID-19 vaccines?
Fact: Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, COVID-19 can cause severe illness or death.
In order to stop the rapid spread of the ongoing pandemic, vaccinations are the only solution at hand. Vaccines stimulate the human body’s own protective immune responses so that, if a person is infected with a pathogen, the immune system can quickly prevent the infection from spreading within the body and causing disease. In this way, vaccines mimic natural infection but without causing the person to become sick. Therefore, Vaccines also ensure that hospitalizations due to severe illness will be reduced along with bringing down the mortality rate.
In general, most vaccines do not completely prevent infection but do prevent the infection from spreading within the body and from causing disease. Many vaccines can also prevent transmission, potentially leading to herd protection whereby unvaccinated people are protected from infection by the vaccinated people around them because they have less chance of exposure to the virus.
Question 6: Post-vaccination, can I protect the people by not transmitting the disease?
Fact: It is still uncertain how likely the vaccinated individuals are likely to transmit COVID-19 to others.
The experts are still learning whether or not the current COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. It is likely they reduce the risk of virus transmission but probably not completely in everyone. This is one of the reasons why it will still be important for people to continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, even after being vaccinated.
In summary, the hypothetical questions raised in the video are all FALSE and are aimed at misleading & dissuading people from taking the vaccine. The computerized voice is not representative of the CDC. Experts are still learning about the vaccine functioning and adverse effects, if any, are also being monitored by WHO and other credible health authorities. Therefore, it is necessary to verify any claim on COVID-19 vaccines with credible health authorities such as WHO, CDC, or the Indian Health authorities and ensure that we all take the required two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to eventually break the chain of the virus transmission.