What Should I Know About Testing
The CDC says you should consider getting a COVID-19 test if:
- You have symptoms of COVID-19 this applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
- You have had close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- You have been asked to get tested by a healthcare provider or state or local health department.
The most accurate COVID-19 tests use a method called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. PCR tests require your sample to be sent to a lab, so it can take a few days to get results.
The FDA has also given EUAs to rapid tests that use whats called antigen technology. Antigen tests are faster because samples dont have to be sent out to a lab, but studies show they are less accurate, especially if you are asymptomatic.
Whats more, five at-home COVID-19 tests have the FDAs OK. These tests deliver results in real time at home and are sold over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. Some are already available.
This story will be updated periodically with new developments. Check back regularly.
More on Coronavirus
Protection Against Transmission Wanes
The new study showed that protection against transmission seemed to wane over time, however. After three months, people who had breakthrough infections after being vaccinated with AstraZeneca were just as likely to spread the delta variant as the unvaccinated. While protection against transmission decreased in people who had received the Pfizer vaccine, there was still a benefit when compared with people who were unvaccinated.
Since antibody levels also tend to decrease over time after vaccination, a reduction in protection against transmission is to be expected, Richterman said.
We know that the amount of antibodies circulating in the blood decreases over time after vaccination, even though the immune memory remains durably robust and is still able to prevent infections, particularly severe infection, he said. These circulating antibodies that are immediately available probably play some role in preventing transmission if infected, so I dont think its surprising to see some reduced protection against transmission over time.
Richterman and Butler-Wu agreed that while community transmission remains high, masks and testing remain important.
We need to combine our vaccines with other measures to reduce how much virus we get exposed to by things like masking and testing, Butler-Wu said. Additive measures is the name of the game here.
Should I Postpone My Elective Surgery
The availability of elective surgeries and procedures throughout the United States is very fluid, and may reflect the number of cases and infection rate in a given area. If COVID-19 cases are rising in your area, it’s quite possible that you already have been canceled or rescheduled by the hospital or medical center in which you are scheduled to have the procedure. If not, you should consider postponing any procedure that can wait.
That being said, keep in mind that “elective” is a relative term. For instance, you may not have needed immediate surgery for sciatica caused by a herniated disc. But the pain may be so severe that you would not be able to endure postponing the surgery for weeks or perhaps months. In that case, you and your doctor should make a shared decision about proceeding.
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Is It Safe To Travel Once Im Vaccinated What If Im Not Vaccinated
Guidance from the CDC issued in April 2021 states that fully vaccinated people may travel more freely within the US. Travelers do not need to get COVID testing before or after travel and do not need to quarantine, unless required by local or state authorities.
The CDC is more cautious about international travel, noting the increased risk of variants in other countries, even for people who are fully vaccinated.
As a general rule, travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19 if you are not vaccinated. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated travels get tested before and after domestic travel and self-quarantine for 7 to 10 days after travel. They discourage unvaccinated people from travelling outside of the US.
All travelers should wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth, maintain a physical distance of six feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash hands often. Anyone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 should not fly if at all possible.
Stay current on travel advisories from regulatory agencies.
Should I Go To The Doctor Or Dentist For Nonurgent Appointments
Many medical and dental practices have instituted comprehensive safety measures to help protect you, the doctor and office staff, and other patients. If you feel anxious about visiting in person, call the practice.
Many doctor’s offices are increasingly providing telehealth services. This may mean appointments by phone call, or virtual visits using a video chat service. Ask to schedule a telehealth appointment with your doctor for a new or ongoing nonurgent matter. If, after speaking to you, your doctor would like to see you in person, he or she will let you know.
What if your appointments are not urgent but also don’t fall into the low-risk category? For example, if you have been advised to have periodic scans after cancer remission, if your doctor sees you regularly to monitor for a condition for which you’re at increased risk, or if your treatment varies based on your most recent test results? In these and similar cases, call your doctor for advice.
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What Is Viral Shedding Anyway
People can shed virus after a viral infection, such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
If people are infected, they can shed virus via their respiratory secretions when they cough and sneeze. During the pandemic, thats why we socially distance, wear masks and stay at home if were sick. We can only infect someone if the virus is live.
Some vaccines for other diseases contain live viruses that have been weakened . Examples are vaccines against measles, rubella, mumps and herpes zoster .
These train your body to mount an immune response with a version of the virus that isnt so dangerous.
For example, with the very effective vaccine against herpes zoster , there is a very small risk the weakened virus can cause infection. However, this happened in less than 1% out of more than 20,000 people vaccinated over a ten-year period. The majority of people infected this way had a weakened immune system.
Vaccine Breakthroughs And Variants
CDC continues to actively monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness against new and emerging variants for all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. Research shows that the FDA-authorized vaccines offer protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death against currently circulating variants in the United States. However, some people who are fully vaccinated will get COVID-19.
The Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. However, studies indicate that the vaccines used in the United States work well against the Delta variant, particularly in preventing severe disease and hospitalization. Overall, if there are more infections with SARS-CoV-2 there will be more vaccine breakthrough infections. However, the risk of infection, hospitalization, and death are all much lower in vaccinated compared to unvaccinated people. Therefore, everyone aged 12 years and older should get vaccinated to protect themselves from severe disease and death.
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Whats Wrong With The Claim That Vaccinated People Can Spread Covid
People looking to cast doubt on the vaccines efficacy often cite a CDC study leaked by the New York Times saying viral loads were similar for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. But the study has serious limitations, and in any case doesnt give the full picture on transmission.
Early this summer, as the number of Minnesotans reaching full vaccination status increased rapidly and COVID-19 case numbers dropped, things seemed to be looking better in the pandemic forecast. Many Minnesotans who hadnt traveled or gone to the grocery store maskless in more than a year started loosening up on pandemic restrictions. Things felt almost normal.
Then came the delta variant and reports of a COVID-19 outbreak among mostly vaccinated people in Provincetown, Mass. in July. Leaked Centers for Disease Control slides suggested the delta variant may be similarly transmissible in vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Ever since, people skeptical of the vaccines or their efficacy, and some chafing against vaccine mandates have cited the CDCs report and others with similar findings.
Its my belief that vaccinated individuals are spreading COVID and catching COVID, one state employee said in a Minnesota Senate committee last week, arguing for frequent testing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated state employees covered by the states vaccine requirement.
Limitations of the CDC study
Less likely to be infected
Greta Kaul is MinnPosts data reporter. She can be reached at .
Covid Vaccines Dont Contain Live Virus To Shed
However, none of the COVID vaccines approved for use anywhere around the world so far use live virus.
Instead, they use other technologies to train our bodies to recognise SARS-CoV-2 and to mount a protective immune response should we ever be exposed to it.
For instance, the AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. This uses a modified chimpanzee virus to carry into the body the genetic instructions to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Your body then uses these instructions to make the spike protein, and to raise a protective immune response.
The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which contains the genetic material to code for the spike protein. Once inside your cells, your body uses those instructions to make spike protein, again raising a protective immune response.
COVID vaccines dont give you the disease or give you a positive COVID test. Again, they dont contain live virus. They contain fragments of spike protein or the instructions on how to make it.
Even if you could shed spike protein after vaccination, that wouldnt be enough to cause an infection. For that you need the entire virus, which the vaccines dont contain.
And the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is very short-lived, and is quickly degraded in our cells. Again, the mRNA wouldnt be enough to cause an infection. It would need to be packaged inside a live virus, which our vaccines dont contain.
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Should I Wear A Face Mask
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through viral particles that float in the air or through droplets containing virus. Even people who are infected but do not have symptoms, or have not yet developed symptoms, can infect others. Masks reduce the amount of virus we breathe in and breathe out. Combined with the vaccine, masks provide a one-two punch that reduce the risk of spread to children who are not yet eligible for vaccines, to people with weakened immune systems, and to others who are unvaccinated. Masks also provide additional protection for the wearer, even those who are fully vaccinated.
In July 2021, the CDC advised all people vaccinated and unvaccinated to wear masks in public indoor places in areas of the country with widespread transmission of the virus. The CDC has always advised unvaccinated people to mask indoors, and also advises anyone at increased risk to wear a mask indoors, regardless of the level of community transmission. The change in guidance for people who are fully vaccinated was made amidst increasing numbers of infections and hospitalizations across the country.
Transmission is much less likely to occur outdoors, and masks are not needed in most outdoor settings.
While N95 masks are the most effective, these medical-grade masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Surgical masks are preferred if you are caring for someone who has COVID-19.
The WHO offers videos and illustrations on when and how to use a mask.
Frequently Asked Questions About Covid
NOTICE: FDA has granted full approvalfor Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting on Monday, August 30, 2021, to discuss its updated recommendation for this vaccine.
- Below are answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.
- Bust myths and learn the facts about COVID-19 vaccines
If you have lost your vaccination card or dont have a copy, contact your vaccination provider site where you received your vaccine to access your vaccination record. Learn more about how you can locate your vaccination provider.
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 because:
- Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover from COVID-19.
- Vaccination helps protect you even if youve already had COVID-19.
Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than 2 times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
What You Should Keep Doing
For now, if youve been fully vaccinated:
- You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
- If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance .
- Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested 3 days before travel by air into the United States and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
- You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if youve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. If your test is positive, isolate at home for 10 days.
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
When Youve Been Fully Vaccinated
How to Protect Yourself and Others
NOTICE: FDA has granted full approval for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting on Monday, August 30, 2021, to discuss its updated recommendation for this vaccine.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
- In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
- In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
band aid light icon If you havent been vaccinated yet, find a vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can do things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
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Why Dont We Have Data On Breakthrough Cases
Up until May 1, 2021, the CDC recorded all breakthrough cases, whether mild, moderate, or severe. But starting on May 1, they began recording only breakthrough cases that resulted in hospitalization or death. The CDC explains that they made this change to help maximize the quality of data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance.
But this means that in the U.S. we do not know how often breakthrough cases occur or which variants are causing breakthroughs .
So, should you worry that a fully vaccinated person who may have an asymptomatic breakthrough case can unknowingly transmit the virus to someone who is unvaccinated?
I would say its not likely, but we dont yet know with certainty, says Dr. Meyer. Theoretically, it may be true that people are being infected by their asymptomatic vaccinated contacts, but were just not seeing that clinically, she says. And the verdict is out on this in terms of the epidemiologic data.
What You Can Do
If youve been fully vaccinated:
- You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
- To reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
- You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
- If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
- You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.
- You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
- You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
- You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
- You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
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