With Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca all releasing effective Covid-19 vaccines, many are wondering what will come next as more and more people begin to receive their doses. As of right now, there is still no clear timeline as to when this pandemic will actually end and life can return to complete normalcy, so experts are warning vaccinated individuals not to let their guard down.
The biggest debate has been over whether or not you still have to wear a mask once you’re vaccinated, and so far every expert has said that yes, you do. No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing the Covid-19 vaccine the same way an annual flu shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu that year.
The best of the currently available vaccines offer up to 95% protection once you’re fully immunized, leaving a 5% chance that you can still get the virus, and after it’s claimed the lives of over 430,000+ Americans, why take the chance. To put it into perspective, birth control methods such as pills, patches, shots, etc. are between 91% and 96% effective in preventing pregnancy; which equates to about 9 out of every 100 women on contraception still getting pregnant, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
Everyone’s immune system is also different, meaning some will have a much stronger response to the vaccine than others. Dr. Peter Hotez is a professor and dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who recently spoke with the media about the importance of everyone receiving their second dose of the vaccine within a key time frame in order to guarantee a strong response.
“In looking at the Phase 1, Phase 2 data, what I saw with a single dose is some people had high levels of virus-neutralizing antibodies, others were nonresponders. So the major reason for the second dose is to get everybody to respond. If you just get a single dose, you don’t really know where you stand, remember, it can take two to three weeks after you get the second shot before your immunity fully kicks in.”
With the appearance of multiple different strains of the Covid-19 virus appearing as well, there’s no guarantee that the vaccines will work as effectively should one get infected with a new strain after vaccination. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that if the new strains become dominant, “the experience of our colleagues in South Africa indicates that even if you’ve been infected with the original virus that there is a very high rate of reinfection. Previous infection does not seem to protect you against reinfection. There is also a possibility that the current vaccines won’t fully protect against the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That’s being studied feverishly right now, so stay tuned.”
Experts are also unaware if a vaccination means that an individual can still be an asymptomatic carrier and therefore continue to spread the virus unknowingly. Additionally, researchers are continuously studying vaccinated individuals to determine how long immunity lasts and whether or not adults will need to receive booster shots down the line to maintain that immunity.
The same logic should be applied to hanging out with other individuals who have also been vaccinated. Experts claim that even if you and your friends are all vaccinated you should take proper precautions before hanging out such as waiting at least 10 days after you receive your second dose and continuing to social distance.
It’s going to be a while before the world fully recovers from theis pandemic, and things like sports games, concerts, bars, and restaurants are open for close-contact maskless fun. For now, continue to follow all the proper guidelines, wear a mask, and wait to hear from your healthcare provider in regards to when you can receive your vaccine.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.