Vaccination Doesnt Eliminate Risk Of Transmission
Some early evidence out of South Africa provided hope that the omicron variant may cause a more mild disease than earlier variants, but many patients there were younger, making them less likely to develop severe illness to begin with. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, told reporters Dec. 17 that the seriousness of infection is “still up in the air right now because there are a lot of confounding issues as to whether or not it is less severe.”
Heather Scobie, an epidemiologist at the CDC, wrote in a Dec. 16 presentation that its not yet known how easily omicron spreads compared with delta. However, it is “likely that vaccinated people with breakthrough infection or people infected without symptoms can spread the virus to others.” That statement was similar to one the CDC made in August.
A page on the CDCs website updated Dec. 20 said that the “CDC expects that anyone with omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or dont have symptoms.”
We read recent statements by Biden administration officials promoting vaccination, and none went as far as Biden to suggest that vaccination completely eliminated the chance of transmission. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters Dec. 17 that even vaccinated individuals should take precautions to reduce the spread.
Increased Community Transmission Increase The Odds Of Breakthrough Cases
The 7-day moving average of daily COVID-19 new cases has steadily risen since late June. And community transmission is high in many places, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker.
If you have such high community spread, Massey says, even if the vaccines are really strong, that community spread is going to continue among the unvaccinated and eventually to some of the vaccinated as well.
With the more infectious Delta variant circling, the CDC has for fully vaccinated people. The latest recommendation is to wear a mask in public indoors settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
Saying that we should take risk mitigation steps like wearing masks in addition to the vaccine is not a knock on the vaccine, Massey says, but a knock on vaccination rates and on how much COVID is spreading.
Currently, about half of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker. And just under 60% of the population 12 and older is fully vaccinated. Getting vaccination rates up will help mitigate instances of breakthrough infections, Massey says.
Combining solutions is only smart, she adds. Throwing everything we have at protecting ourselves and kids and immunosuppressed people and the elderly is only smart.
Could It Be The Tests
The professor also pointed to the first results released Wednesday of a British human challenge trial, carried out by Imperial and several other research bodies, in which 36 healthy young adults were deliberately exposed to Covid, but only half of them actually became infected with the virus.
“How is it that you pipette an identical dose of virus into people’s nostrils and 50% become infected, the other 50% not?,” Altmann asked, referring to the method used in the trial to expose the participants to the virus.
Essentially all the trial volunteers were given a low dose of the virus introduced via drops up the nose and then carefully monitored by clinical staff in a controlled environment over a two-week period.
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Will Businesses Keep Records Of My Proof Of Vaccination If They Do How Will I Know My Information Is Safe
Businesses are not required to store patrons proof of vaccination status.
Businesses that choose to store patrons proof of vaccination status for ease of access should clearly inform people how their information will be collected, stored and used. It is the business responsibility to meet its legal obligations.
Efficacy Depends On The Individual
To add to the vaccine characteristics, you also add patient characteristics, Dr. Sanghavi explained. Patients with immunosuppressed status after organ transplantation, those who are post-hematologic malignancy, or those who are older have higher chances of getting COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, noting that we see a lot of these patients in our practice.
High-risk cases also include patients who are immunosuppressed for other medical conditions such as liver disease, cirrhosis and end-stage renal disease, he said, adding that all those factors make the patient who gets the vaccine react in a different way, and they may not find the antibodies as compared to other healthy individuals who got the vaccinethat leads to a fully vaccinated person getting COVID.
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What Can Be Done To Prevent Breakthrough Cases
The most important thing you can do is get BOTH doses of your vaccine and take precautions, like wearing a mask around other people, until youre fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means its been 2 weeks since your final dose. For Pfizer and Moderna, thats 2 weeks after your 2nd dose. For Johnson & Johnson, its 2 weeks after your first and only dose.
Its possible for a person to get sick with COVID-19 if theyre infected just before or just after being vaccinated because their body hasnt had time to build full protection from the virus yet. With variants still spreading across the globe, its more important than ever to get vaccinated. Research shows the vaccines are effective against the variants identified so far.
Why Are Vaccinated People Still Getting Covid
Weve heard of cases where people who are in between doses or people who have received both doses are still testing positive or becoming infected with COVID-19. How is this possible? Dr. Cardona attributes this to exposure risks or where people are in the vaccination process.
Immunization with the COVID-19 vaccines provides the best protection within two weeks of being fully vaccinated. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of Pfizers or Modernas vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnsons. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 or becomes ill a few days later, they most likely were exposed before being fully vaccinated. There are reported cases of illness and/or exposure after the vaccines, but the complications of the disease for those not vaccinated yet has been of greater magnitude.
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No Vaccine Is Perfect
One reason why fully vaccinated people might develop breakthrough COVID-19 infections is the characteristics of the vaccine itself and how efficacious the vaccine is, because there is not a single vaccine that we know of that is 100% effective, explained Dr. Sanghavi. We know from initial trials from both mRNA vaccines that the effectiveness was somewhere around 94% and 95%slightly lower in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The study environment is different because these are patients who were carefully selected when the trial rolled out. After the FDA gave its EUA , and it was given to a lot of the general population, we found that the real-world effectiveness of the vaccine is lower at around 90%, he said. That means that there are inherent characteristics of the vaccine itself when it reacts with the patient and the comorbidities of the patient that would itself lead to ineffective immunization in certain populations.
How Do The Vulnerable Get Covid
A vaccination against COVID-19 offers protection against the virus, but it doesnt mean you wont get it. Breakthrough infections infections in people who are vaccinated do sometimes occur.
The good news? Overall, people who are vaccinated are less likely to be infected, notes Dr. Teleron. And if someone does experience a breakthrough infection, their illness is typically milder without the need for hospitalization or ICU care.
Vaccinations also help reduce the spread of the virus, which safeguards your family, friends, colleagues and community.
People with chronic medical conditions may not have as robust of an immune response to vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine, however, helps protect them against severe disease and death.
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What You Need To Know About Covid
Explore top articles, videos, research highlights and more from the AMAyour source for clear, evidence-based news and guidance during the pandemic.
The three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United Statesfrom Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnsonare doing exactly what they were meant to do: protect against severe illness and hospitalization. But with the more dangerous Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 spreading rapidly, the U.S. is seeing more COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that getting vaccinated is effective in preventing people from getting severely ill or dying from the disease. Even as new COVID-19 variants appear, vaccines continue to hold their ground. But since no vaccine is perfect, it is expected that we will see some COVID-19 breakthrough infections.
More than 161 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Meanwhile, the CDC reports that there have been more than 10,000 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases. However, while the CDC initially tracked all breakthrough COVID-19 infections, as of May 1 the agency shifted to only tracking those linked to hospitalization or death. Over 5,100 patients with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections were hospitalized or died.
What The Numbers Say About Your Risk
“Breakthrough infections are occurring, but the truly good news is that vaccinated individuals who do get COVID-19 are much less likely to be hospitalized than those who aren’t vaccinated,” says Dr. Drews. “The death rate is also much, much lower for vaccinated individuals.”
According to CDC data released in August 2021, vaccinated individuals are:
- 8 times less likely to get COVID-19
- 25 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19
- 25 times less likely to die of COVID-19
“This is welcome news since it reaffirms that the vaccines are very successful at their primary job preventing serious disease,” says Dr. Drews. “In fact, estimates suggest that COVID-19 vaccines have saved a quarter of a million lives and prevented more than 1 million hospitalizations.”
In most cases, fully vaccinated people who do get infected with the virus are asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms. So, while the vaccines aren’t perfect, they’re pretty darn close.
“The major concern about breakthrough infections is that fully vaccinated people can inadvertently spread COVID-19 to others, and it may be hard to determine how common this is,” warns Dr. Drews.
This is why it’s so important for all of us to take precautions right now, especially as we head into the holiday season.
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Breakthrough Infections: Coronavirus After Vaccination
A breakthrough infection is an infection with a virus, bacterium or other germ after you have been vaccinated. This is an expected occurrence for a small percentage of those receiving any vaccine, since no vaccine for any disease is 100% effective in preventing infection in every person who receives it.
Breakthrough coronavirus infections happen when someone who has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 becomes infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, explain what you need to know about breakthrough coronavirus infections.
There Is Still More To Learn About Delta
As data about Delta accumulates, scientists are working hard to learn as much as possible as quickly as they can. One important question is whether the Delta strain will make you sicker than the original virus. Early information about the severity of Delta included studies from Scotland and Canada, both cited by the CDC, that suggested the Delta variant may be more likely to result in hospitalization in the unvaccinated. A report this summer, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that people in England with Delta had double the hospitalization risk of those with Alpha, which was previously the dominant mutation in that country.
Another question focuses on how Delta affects the body. There have been reports of symptoms that are different than those associated with the original coronavirus strain, Dr. Yildirim says. It seems like cough and loss of smell are less common, she says. And headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are present based on surveys in the U.K.
Meanwhile, experts continue to study Delta and breakthrough cases. Its difficult to pin down exact numbers of breakthrough infections in the U.S., where the CDC stopped counting cases that dont result in hospitalization or death in May. The agency notes that no vaccine is 100% effective, and any rise in cases will have an accompanying rise in breakthrough infections.
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Number Of Doses For Primary Series
Most COVID-19 vaccines require 2 doses for the primary series. A second dose is essential for longer-lasting and optimal protection, including against most variants of concern. If you’ve already had COVID-19, you should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and may be offered 2 doses.
A different COVID-19 vaccine may be offered for your second dose. This is known as a mixed vaccine schedule. NACI recommends that mRNA vaccines should be offered for both first and second doses. This is the case even if you received a first dose of the AstraZeneca Vaxzevria vaccine.
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What This Means For You
If you have been fully vaccinated, it is still best to continue to follow CDCs safety guidelines like wearing a mask and social distancing in public. However, your risk of contracting COVID-19 from an unvaccinated person is low, and even if you do contract a variant of the virus, your body may still be able to develop an immune response against it.
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Why Do Some People Still Get Covid After Being Vaccinated
Vaccines arent magic barriers. They dont kill the virus or pathogen they target.
Rather, vaccines stimulate a persons immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies are specific against the virus or pathogen for the vaccine and allows the body to fight infection before it takes hold and causes severe disease.
However, some people wont have a strong enough immune response to the vaccine and may still be susceptible to developing COVID-19 if exposed to the virus.
How a person responds to a vaccine is impacted by a number of host factors, including our age, gender, medications, diet, exercise, health and stress levels.
Its not easy to tell who hasnt developed a strong enough immune response to the vaccine. Measuring a persons immune response to a vaccine is not simple and requires detailed laboratory tests.
And while side effects from the vaccine indicate youre having a response, the absence of symptoms doesnt mean youre having a weak response.
It also takes time for the immune system to respond to vaccines and produce antibodies. For most two-shot vaccines, antibody levels rise and then dip after the first dose. These antibodies are then boosted after the second.
But youre not optimally covered until your antibody levels rise after the second dose.
Unvaccinated Bearing The Brunt Of The Surge
As it has been since the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, the virus is affecting the unvaccinated more than the vaccinated.
In a Nov. 22 White House press briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , said unvaccinated people are about 6 times more likely to test positive than vaccinated people, 9 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 14 times more likely to die from COVID-related complications.
At that time, the Delta variant dominated when Walensky made the statement.
How have things changed now that Omicron has taken over?
Its still early in the Omicron surge. Still, most hospitals are stretched beyond capacity, Younus said, and some including his hospital system are now operating under crisis standards of care.
More than 75 percent of all hospitalized COVID-positive patients in the University of Maryland Medical Systems 12 hospitals are unvaccinated, said Younus. A majority of the remaining 25 percent have received only 1 or 2 shots.
Younus added that this wave is dramatically worse than Delta.
However, because of improved treatments, the overall mortality for COVID-19 has gone down since the beginning of the pandemic.
In addition, breakthrough infections tend to be milder, according to S. Wesley Long, PhD, a researcher at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston.
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Are You Less Likely To Get Covid If You Are Vaccinated
Some patients have seen reports about fully vaccinated people getting infected, and they are asking if this means the vaccines arent working. Others have asked if getting vaccinated helps prevent the transmission, or spread, of COVID-19. These are both important questions.
What are breakthrough infections?
We have known all along that the COVID-19 vaccines are not perfect. Like other vaccines weve used routinely for years, they are highly effective, but not 100% .
When a fully vaccinated person gets infected, it is often called a breakthrough infection. There are a few things to know about breakthrough infections:
- Doctors, scientists and regulators monitor for breakthrough infections very closely. In fact, Manitoba Public Health now reports new and active cases by vaccination status.
- The scientific evidence is confirming that the vaccines reduce the likelihood of getting infected with COVID-19, including against the Delta variant of concern.
- The evidence is also confirming that when breakthrough infections happen, the chance is very low of getting seriously sick, requiring hospital care, dying or developing long COVID.
So, the vaccines help to reduce the chance of getting COVID-19 and they are still incredibly effective at preventing severe illness and death, including against variants of concern like the Delta variant.
Do the vaccines prevent transmission of COVID-19?