Many people have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and I’ve been reading that post-vaccination means going back to how it was pre-pandemic – party with all your friends in a crowded restaurant.
I don’t mean to be THAT guy – you know, the one that says that buying a trampoline for your kids is not a good idea. But I’ve seen too many social media posts in which people are stating that they are now protected so they don’t have to worry about things. They are just plain wrong.
Despite my being solidly in support of the COVID-19 vaccine, there are three very good reasons to continue to be diligent post-vaccination.
Post COVID-19 vaccine diligence
There are four good reasons to continue to wear masks and maintaining social distancing post-COVID-19 vaccine:
At best, the first two vaccines available, from Moderna and Pfizer, show around 95% effectiveness in reducing the risk of contracting the disease. That means that about 5% of vaccinations don’t produce an effective immune response. And because COVID-19 is still widespread, someone who didn’t get an appropriate immune response from the vaccine may be vulnerable to the disease.
Vaccines like MMR, for measles, mumps, and rubella, also have around a 93-97% effectiveness. But we don’t worry too much about those few people who didn’t get proper immunity because over 90% of people are vaccinated, so the risk of transmission is very low (though it does happen).
Long-term vaccine effectiveness
Because there was a strategy across the world to get people vaccinated to reduce the mortality rate from the disease, we knew we didn’t have the luxury of a long-term clinical trial to observe effectiveness for more than just a few months.
Thus, there is some risk that the vaccine loses effectiveness over time, whether it’s months or years, or that a new mutation arises that could avoid the immune response conferred by the vaccine. It will take time to determine if there is long-term COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness.
As of today, we do not know if these vaccines can prevent asymptomatic carriers, that is, someone who carries the SARS-CoV-2 virus but shows no symptoms. Therefore, it could be possible that someone who is post-COVID-19 vaccine could transmit the disease to someone who is not immune.
Unless we want to tattoo people on their faces with “Vaccinated against COVID-19,” it’s going to be difficult to determine who has and has not been vaccinated.
I’m going to be in the last group of people to get the vaccine, so when I walk into a grocery store, I don’t know if the person walking in front of me without a mask is actually vaccinated. Or if they’re vaccinated but are still an asymptomatic carrier. Or they lie about being vaccinated because they hate masks for some ridiculous reason.
Wear your damn mask
Until we have herd immunity of probably well over 80%, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, we are all at risk of the disease. And we want that herd immunity from the vaccine, not from contracting the disease – doing that is a form of genocide.
So, even if you are post-COVID-19 vaccine, you need to continue to do four things:
- Stay home except for essential needs.
- Wear a mask. Yes, the stop the transmission of COVID-19. Seriously, they work. Science says they work. More science says they work. And more science says they work.
- Keep your distance.
- Wash your hands.
Even though it’s still difficult to do, being post-COVID-19 vaccine does not give us a free pass to do whatever we want until we get an all-clear from public health experts that we have achieved a community level of immunity that we are protected from this disease.
- Leffler CT, Ing E, Lykins JD, Hogan MC, McKeown CA, Grzybowski A. Association of Country-wide Coronavirus Mortality with Demographics, Testing, Lockdowns, and Public Wearing of Masks. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Dec;103(6):2400-2411. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.20-1015. Epub 2020 Oct 26. PMID: 33124541; PMCID: PMC7695060.
Lyu W, Wehby GL. Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Health Aff (Millwood). 2020 Aug;39(8):1419-1425. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00818. Epub 2020 Jun 16. PMID: 32543923.
- Wang X, Ferro EG, Zhou G, Hashimoto D, Bhatt DL. Association Between Universal Masking in a Health Care System and SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Among Health Care Workers. JAMA. 2020 Jul 14;324(7):703–4. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.12897. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32663246; PMCID: PMC7362190.