By Primary Health Clinical Director
As the numbers come down after Idaho’s fourth wave of COVID infections, now is a good time to review what we’ve learned about the efficacy of COVID vaccines. One truth becomes increasingly clear with each wave: getting vaccinated will help keep you out of the hospital. CDC data from December 2021 shows:
- Monthly rates of COVID-19 associated hospitalizations were 16x higher in unvaccinated adults and 8x higher in unvaccinated adolescents when compared to fully vaccinated peers.
- When compared to fully vaccinated and boosted persons, the rate of COVID-19 associated hospitalizations were 45x higher in unvaccinated adults ages 50-64 and 51x higher in unvaccinated adults ages 65 and older. Source: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#covidnet-hospitalizations-vaccination
In addition to reducing the odds of hospitalization, it’s clear that COVID vaccines saves lives.
- Most recent CDC data shows that unvaccinated adults had a 15x higher risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated adults.
- When compared to fully vaccinated and boosted persons, unvaccinated adults had a 68x increased risk of dying from COVID-19. Source: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#rates-by-vaccine-status
Vaccination also limits the spread of illness.
- Breakthrough infections (COVID infections in vaccinated persons) will happen because no vaccine is 100% effective. Omicron is a highly contagious variant, and as such, we have seen more breakthrough infections during this surge.
- When breakthrough infections DO happen, the infected individual is infectious for a shorter period of time and is less able to spread illness to susceptible persons. This is very important from a public health and safety standpoint. Source: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/12/vaccinated-who-get-breakthrough-infections-less-contagious/
Being up-to-date with vaccination will protect you and your family, not to mention your entire community.
- Up-to-date or “fully vaccinated” means: A person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster doses, when eligible.
- Staying up-to-date with vaccines means you can get back to school, work, and activities with an added layer of protection.
- For more information, check here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html
Both mRNA vaccines are now fully FDA approved.
- Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have FULL FDA approval for adults 18 and over.
- What does this mean? This should instill confidence in those who have been wary about the emergency use designation first given to these vaccines. The public can be assured that these mRNA vaccines meet the highest safety standards and have repeatedly shown their efficacy against COVID illness.
- American Medical Association on Pfizer approval: https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/what-fda-s-full-approval-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-means
- FDA press release on Moderna approval: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-takes-key-action-approving-second-covid-19-vaccine
- The Pfizer vaccine is still available under emergency use for kids under age 16. Here is some info from Johns Hopkins for parents considering the vaccine for their child: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid19-vaccine-what-parents-need-to-know
COVID vaccination is a safer way to build immunity.
- There are benefits to natural immunity (immunity obtained after being infected with COVID). However, it is a risky way to gain immunity.
- Vaccination immunity is more durable and uniform than the immunity gained from a natural infection.
- It is risky to “take your chances” when opting out of vaccination. Getting sick with COVID-19 can cause severe illness and death, even in young people and even in those who do NOT have any risk factors for severe COVID (like obesity, high blood pressure, or heart disease).
- You take the chance of having long-term health issues after COVID infection. Long haul COVID symptoms are not uncommon. These include symptoms like persistent fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, cough, joint pain, and sleep problems.
- There is also a risk of MIS-C, a rare but serious inflammatory syndrome in kids. This syndrome happens weeks after COVID infection, even in kids who had no COVID symptoms. Total MIS-C cases in the US so far: 6,851. Total MIS-C deaths: 59.
- CDC MIS-C: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#mis-national-surveillance
- CDC Vaccine benefits: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html
The bottom line is COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and will likely continue to offer strong protection, no matter what variant comes our way. Vaccines are extremely protective against severe disease, hospitalization and death. Vaccines helps prevent spread of disease, especially to those who are vulnerable in our community. Immunity from vaccination is more reliable than taking your chances with a COVID infection. The more people we can vaccinate, the less disruptive future COVID waves will be to our daily lives.