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COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness

June 11, 2021

More than 294 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States through May 31, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all people age 12 and over get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

We have compiled a list of common questions to help inform you why COVID-19 vaccination is so important to you and your loved ones.

  • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Research shows that the Pfizer® and Moderna® COVID-19 vaccines are 95% effective after 2 doses. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that was shown to be 86% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease and 72% effective against developing moderate to severe disease. The vaccine also was shown to provide a significant reduction in asymptomatic disease (infected but showing no symptoms) – 75% effective in preventing infection from asymptomatic individuals. Up to 40% of people with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic. Side effects are similar to the other vaccines.

  • We are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms. Early data show that vaccines help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19. It’s possible that someone could have a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and be able to spread disease.

  • The body’s immune response after vaccination is stronger than it is to COVID-19 itself, especially if illness was mild. Studies show higher antibody concentrations that lasted longer in the trial patient groups than in people who recovered from COVID-19 after experiencing mild or no symptoms. Getting COVID-19 may offer some protection, known as natural immunity, but COVID-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build protection. The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.

  • Yes. Scientists believe the current vaccines will also protect against the mutated strains of COVID-19. The fundamental properties of the spike protein have not changed, so we expect the vaccines to remain effective. However, much like flu viruses, coronaviruses have a high rate of mutation, meaning they change slightly over time. It’s possible we may need an annual COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to our annual flu shot, to stay protected against mutations.

  • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, we believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine also helps keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

  • All the vaccines available in the U.S. are effective. Vaccine availability will determine which vaccine you receive.

  • Not at all. Do not worry if you have no symptoms after vaccination. This does not mean your body is not mounting an immune response. Many people simply do not develop symptoms or side effects.

  • The CDC recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve previously had the disease. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from becoming sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Once you are out of isolation/quarantine and are without symptoms, you can receive the vaccine.

  • Since 2 shots are required, it will be 6-7 weeks after the first shot until the vaccine provides full protection.

Dana Hawkinson, MD: If you are fully vaccinated, there are less restrictions. You do not need to be masking. You can go to different places and get-togethers, people's houses. You're able to do those really without those restrictions of the social distancing and the masking.

Dr. Hawkinson: If you are 12 and under, you need to continue to do those things that we have really done for this past year or year and a half: continuing to distance, continuing to mask, do hand hygiene, stay out of those situations where there could be a lot of people there.

Dr. Hawkinson: It is OK to take your kids to the pool. I would still encourage, if not everybody is fully vaccinated, and especially if those children 12 and under, please try to encourage distancing.

Dr. Hawkinson: Baseball games certainly will be less risky, because they are played outdoors. So, that is always going to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19. If the concerts are outdoors, it's going to be less risky. So, it's, again, judging and trying to determine the amount of people there. You have to assume that not everybody is probably vaccinated. If you can eat outdoors, that will be much safer than eating indoors.

Dr. Hawkinson: If you're grocery shopping or in a store, we do understand that you will probably not be exposed to 1 person for very long, but there will be other people there who are not masked. So, it's just that person's individual comfort level.

Dr. Hawkinson: If you can make certain that everybody is fully vaccinated, under the CDC guidance, they will allow fully vaccinated people to get together without social distancing or masking requirements.

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