Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are now on the rise after weeks of decline. Serious pediatric cases of Covid-19 are also occurring through the country now which creates a new urgency that adults and children get vaccinated.
THE BENEFITS OF A COVID-19 VACCINE
A COVID-19 vaccine could:
- Prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill or dying due to COVID-19.
- Prevent you from spreading the COVID-19 virus to others.
- Add to the number of people in your community who are protected from getting COVID-19 — making it harder for the disease to spread.
- Prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading allowing it to mutate and possibly become more resistant to vaccine.
- Protect your children, family, friends and community from the HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS delta and omicron variants.
But for those who remain unvaccinated, getting infected with COVID-19 — even with just minor symptoms — should be a concern.
For the unvaccinated, they now live in a very dangerous phase of the pandemic, where we’re seeing circulating variants that are much more transmissible and may cause worse cases of the disease than what happened last year at this time.” (Dr. Gregory Poland, Head of The Mayo Clinic, Vaccine Research Group, Rochester, Minnesota)
The safety of these vaccines has been studied extensively and the incidence of adverse effects is very, very low. These vaccines were fast-tracked, but the parts that were fast-tracked were in the paperwork. The follow up was as thorough as it is for any vaccine.
The side effects to the vaccines are very mild. Some of them are quite common. Those include injection site reactions, fevers, chills, and aches and pains. A very, very small number of patients — those patients who’ve had prior allergic reactions —can experience an allergic reaction to the vaccine. That is why you remain for a 15-minute observation after receiving your vaccination – just to be sure.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.
- Scientists are currently investigating Omicron, including how protected fully vaccinated people will be against infection, hospitalization, and death.
- CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated.
- CDC recommends that everyone ages 18 years and older should get a booster shot at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
- Masks offer protection against all variants. The CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status.
THE OMICRON VARIANT
The Omicron variant likely spreads more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The United States is currently experiencing an extremely high rate of infection from the Omicron variant. CDC expects that anyone with the Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. Current data suggests that the symptoms of the Omicron Variant tend to be milder but that is yet to be proven.
The Omicron Variant has shown to be particularly dangerous to those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, including children.
If you are only partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, there is a high likelihood that you or a member of your family could become infected with this variant over the coming months.
However, current evidence suggests that the full dosage of a COVID-19 vaccine (including boosters) is highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and serious illness.
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THE DELTA VARIANT
The Delta Variant has also shown to be particularly dangerous to those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, and preliminary data indicates it may increase the risk of hospitalization.
If you are only partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, there is a high likelihood that you or a member of your family could become infected with this variant over the next few months.
However, current evidence suggests that the full dosage of a COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and serious illness.
Available data shows that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 occur in unvaccinated people.
The vaccines were designed to prevent severe illness, not infection.
The vaccines were intended to prevent hospitalization and death by producing antibodies in the blood that prevent the coronavirus from taking root in the lungs and other organs.
But in order to prevent infection, the vaccines would have to produce more antibodies where the infection begins — in nasal secretions and saliva in the nose and the throat. The vaccines do produce antibodies there, probably enough to prevent infection with previous variants but the Delta and Omicron variants seem to replicate much faster than its predecessors.
The real danger from breakthrough infections is to the unvaccinated.
Vaccinated people are certainly less likely than the unvaccinated to become infected. But on those occasions, vaccinated people can carry as much virus in their nose and throat as unvaccinated people, according to C.D.C. data.
The virus should not last very long in those instances. But infected people can transmit the virus to others very early, even before they feel symptoms.
So, breakthrough infections could contribute to viral spread in a community, if less often and for a shorter period of time than infections in unvaccinated people. It’s just one more way for the virus to find unvaccinated people.
In rare cases, breakthrough infections may lead to persistent symptoms.
“Long Covid” is a poorly understood set of symptoms that can plague people for months after an active infection has ended. Experts say that long Covid after a breakthrough infection is likely to be rare because those infections are uncommon to begin with and shorter in duration. Children are also experiencing “Long Covid” symptoms.
Breakthrough infections may offer an unexpected advantage.
If you get through a breakthrough infection relatively unscathed, you are likely to walk away with more robust protection against variants. Researchers say the infection essentially acts as a booster shot, strengthening your immune system’s ability to recognize and fight the virus.