Lim: Every arm counts

Melanie T. Lim
·2 min read

If vaccinated individuals can test positive for the virus, what is the point of vaccinating?

The vaccine may not prevent infection but it does prevent severe and fatal illness. This means that once vaccinated, we may still get infected and spread the virus to others. But because of vaccination, we may experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms, at all.

How do we spread the virus if we have no symptoms? We don’t need to cough or sneeze to spread the virus. Every time we open our mouth, we spew potentially virus-laden droplets into the air. And we can contaminate surfaces with bodily fluids.

This is why masking and handwashing must continue even after vaccination.

How does one test positive for the virus after vaccination? Aside from the fact that the vaccine may not prevent infection, here are a few other reasons.

FIRST, you may have already been infected BEFORE the vaccination. You can be unaware that you are infected if you are asymptomatic.

SECOND, the vaccine needs time to work. Protection is not immediate. It takes at least 14 days after the first Covid-19 shot (for vaccines that require two shots) to offer SOME protection and another 14 days after the second shot to offer FULL protection.

THIRD, no vaccine offers 100 percent protection. Full protection only means full extent of protection the vaccine is capable of giving you, from a low of 50% to a high of 95%, qualified as protection from transmission, severity of illness or overall protection.

It’s important to understand that the same vaccine does not work uniformly on everyone. The vaccine works with our natural immune system. A healthy individual may receive a more robust response from the vaccine than an immunocompromised patient.

In addition, the vaccine may offer inadequate protection from emerging variants.

So why get the vaccine if it doesn’t offer complete protection? Because some protection is still better than none. And while it may not stop infection, it prevents hospitalization and death.

Not everyone who wants to be protected can be vaccinated. Not everyone who chooses to be vaccinated can benefit from vaccination. Illness, severe allergies, suppressed immune systems, access — any of these can make vaccination, a less than ideal choice or a choice beyond one’s reach.

This is why those who CAN be vaccinated must CHOOSE to be vaccinated — because we need to think not only of ourselves but of those who cannot make this choice.

Dr. Anthony Fauci reminds us that viruses cannot mutate if they cannot replicate. The only way to stop new variants is to stop providing new hosts. If we want our vaccines to win the race against the variants, we must NOT wait to vaccinate.

And if herd immunity is our goal — every arm counts.