Don Mosier, MD, PhD
Most Del Mar residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19 (great!). However, some may now have concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy because of both the pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration and misinformation about vaccine protection against SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 disease) variants. We now have better information about vaccine protection because over one/third of US citizens have been fully vaccinated.
While no vaccine is expected to be 100% protective, the COVID-19 vaccines are proving to be incredibly effective at preventing serious disease. Here are the risk reductions following vaccination from recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- • Risk of hospitalization if you get sick with COVID-19 after vaccination = 1/200,000, based on 77 million adults who are fully vaccinated.
• Risk of dying of COVID-19 after full vaccination = 1/million
• Risk of hospitalization if you get sick with COVID-19 without vaccination = 1/14
• Risk of dying of COVID-19 without vaccination = 1/50
Older individuals with underlying health conditions are most at risk for both hospital admission and death from COVID-19, so the risk reduction for this population is much greater than that for all age groups.
There has been concern expressed about the current vaccines protecting against virus variants. The halting of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine trial in South Africa because of lower efficacy against the variant virus circulating there helped feed the narrative that vaccines might need to be tailored to newly emerging virus variants. The good news is that the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines provide strong protection against disease caused by all currently circulating variants of the virus. These vaccines can quickly be redesigned to match the genetic sequence of major variants to provide even stronger protection, and trials of these second-generation vaccines are currently underway.