Can you relax the safety measures after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Key points to remember
- The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna studies show that both vaccines are safe and effective.
- Because the duration of immunity to COVID-19 is unknown, medical experts advise the public to remain vigilant after receiving the vaccine by applying safety protocols and precautions.
- Until more of the community is vaccinated, people should continue to avoid large social gatherings, wear masks, avoid non-essential travel, and wash their hands thoroughly.
If you were one of the few selected to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you are probably wondering how safe it is to be with others, especially those who have not yet been vaccinated.
In the United States, 5.9 million doses of COVID-19 have been administered and millions more are expected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Depending on the type of vaccine given to you (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), a level of immunity is not reached until 7 to 14 days later after the first dose, and full immunity is not achieved until after two doses. However, despite promising vaccine 95% efficacy figures, there are still aspects of immunity and safety experts to understand.
What this means for you
COVID-19 vaccines roll out in the United States As we wait for the majority of the population to get vaccinated, medical experts are urging you to avoid large gatherings, wear a mask, and practice social distancing.
Unknown on immunity
“The vaccine efficacy in these two Phase 3 vaccine trials was almost 95%, indicating high level protection against these complications,” Steven A. Pergam, MD, MPH, medical director for infection prevention at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), says Verywell. Pfizer and Moderna were able to extrapolate this data from thousands of participants.
Despite the rapid development of these vaccines, medical experts say they underwent rigorous testing in clinical trials before they were granted clearance. “Despite the rapid outcome of these trials, safety was a priority,” Pergam said. “Studies show that these vaccines are not only safe but effective.”
In order to achieve high levels of immunity, patients must be given a second dose. “You get the vaccine, then a month later you get your second dose,” Navya Mysore, MDCM, CCFP, New York-based family physician and medical director of the National Sexual and Reproductive Health Program at One Medical in New York . “Says Verywell.” The main reason is that most patients would not necessarily achieve the amount of antibody.
Although these vaccines offer high efficacy rates, there are still unknowns about vaccine protection. “What it is not known is whether these vaccines can protect individuals from primary infection with the virus,” Pergam said. With an efficacy rate of 95%, 5% of people who receive COVID-19 vaccines may still be at risk of becoming infected.
In addition to the uncertainty of protection, Pergam adds that the duration of immunity is unclear. “Long-term protection studies with these vaccines are ongoing and will help us determine if and when we need to be revaccinated,” Pergam said.
Ongoing studies and tests should be carried out to better understand the long-term impact of the vaccine and the degree of immunity the vaccines offer. According to John Hopkins Medicine, vaccine developers are working on ways to increase the effectiveness of vaccines to provide longer immune protection.
Staying Safe After Vaccination
Because the duration of immunity and protection against infection is still under investigation, Pergam and Mysore advise the public to continue to take all necessary safety precautions, until immunity collective is reached.
“Until vaccination rates in communities are much higher, those vaccinated will need to continue to mask themselves, socially distance themselves and avoid large social gatherings,” Pergam said. Avoiding non-essential travel can also help curb the spread and rate of transmission.
Safety precautions such as masks and social distancing have been proven to limit transmission in communities. Continuing to practice these precautions will help keep everyone safe. “We don’t know if they [the vaccines] preventing person-to-person transmission, it is therefore essential to continue with the steps to prevent transmission of the virus, ”Pergam said. “Until more of the community is vaccinated, we must remain vigilant.”
Since the vaccination will be carried out in waves, it will be necessary to be patient in the deployment of the vaccine. While there is still more information about the impact of the vaccine that needs to be explored, medical experts know that “vaccines are essential in getting us out of this pandemic,” Pergam said.
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