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COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness

June 13, 2022

The CDC has reported that more than 79% of the U.S. population has received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination guidance continues to advance, with September 2022 bringing approval of new bivalent boosters. These offer protection from the original COVID-19 virus as well as more recent variations and are currently recommended for people ages 12 and older.

COVID-19 vaccination is available for people age 6 months and older. For the latest, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • 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 recommended doses plus boosters of these vaccines prevent more than 90% of hospitalizations.

  • To help boost immunity, everyone 5 and older should get a booster shot after their primary vaccination series. See the different vaccines and corresponding booster information.

  • 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.

  • Scientists believe the current vaccines will also protect against the mutated strains of COVID-19, especially when you get your booster shot – the bivalent version, for those eligible – after your primary vaccination series. 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 booster, in addition to our annual flu shot, to stay protected against mutations.

  • It is natural to hesitate because you have questions. That’s much different than rejecting the science. If you follow the science, you’ll be making your decisions based on repeatable, generalizable information. This is not guesswork. It is certainly legitimate to have questions and feel unsure. We urge you to make decisions based on information from qualified medical experts. Remember, physicians and others in the medical field take an oath to first do no harm. We have a deep understanding of viruses and immunology and the value of vaccines. Like everything in life, there is risk and benefit associated with the vaccine. It is our experience that the risk is much lower and the benefit much higher to getting the vaccine – and the opposite is true should you get COVID-19.

    If you are still hesitant, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

  • 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. Not all people 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 getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. It is clear though that those who have had prior infection have longer immunity and better protection if they are also vaccinated compared to those who are not. Most experts recommend waiting 2-4 weeks after an acute infection, as well as clear improvement of symptoms, before getting vaccinated.

  • Your vaccination provides full protection 2 weeks after your primary vaccination series is complete. To increase immunity, a booster shot is strongly recommended by the CDC.

  • This is not unheard of. Here’s why it can happen. First, remember the vaccine itself cannot cause COVID-19. A person may, however, be exposed to COVID-19 just before getting vaccinated and become infected. Also, full protection provided by your primary vaccination series does not occur until about 2 weeks after the second dose. People who have received only the first dose are not yet fully protected and could be susceptible to infection. To increase immunity, a booster is strongly recommended after your primary vaccination series.

    Additionally, breakthrough cases – when a vaccinated person is infected – can happen as no vaccine is 100% effective.

  • If you are fully vaccinated and boosted, your body’s response against COVID-19 is stronger. Your immune system is better equipped to stop the virus and, if you do get sick, chances are your symptoms will be mild. By strengthening your body’s defense system, you can help prevent severe illness and death from the virus.

Updated September 20, 2022

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