You’ve received your second and final vaccine dose. You’re feeling free, excited, liberated, exhilarated...so can you go back to living the way you were before the pandemic? More importantly, can you now go to the mall without your face mask?
The face mask — your pandemic best friend — shall be hugging your face for still more time to come. Here’s why.
Your vaccine does not reach its optimum effectiveness until a few weeks after you’ve completed your vaccination course. The first dose allows only a partial response from your immune system but even that takes a while to get activated.
So far, even the best-approved vaccines only allow up to 95% protection following inoculation. That still leaves you 5% vulnerable to getting infected. If you think the risk is too small, consider the measles vaccine program introduced to the US in 1963. This vaccine was supposed to be 97% effective but the disease still took 4 decades to be eliminated from the country.
Some people’s bodies have stronger immune system reactions than others making them better equipped to combat an infection threat. Others may not respond just as well, which is why health authorities are so insistent on getting two shots within a specific time frame.
Vaccine scientist, and dean and professor atthe National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Dr. Peter Hotez, explains this variation in immune system responses in light of this research. He says,
“In looking at Phase 1, Phase 2 data, what I saw with a single dose is some people had high levels of virus-neutralizing antibody, 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."
It is natural for viruses to mutate into more potent, contagious forms as they replicate, and SARS-CoV-2 is no different. With the emergence of new variants, health officials are advising people to be more precautious even after vaccinations. This is so because antibodies resulting from a previous form of Covid, cannot protect from the virus in a new form such as the variant from South Africa.
Leading infectious-disease expert, Dr, Anthony Fauci explained,
“If it becomes 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."
Medical analysts cannot yet say if vaccinating someone removes their chance of being a carrier of Covid-19. Put another way, it means you can be fully immunized and still be a carrier and able to spread the infection.
Researchers are still studying how long current vaccines’ immunity will last. They have yet to find out if booster shots will be needed and if so then after how long.
So keep wearing your mask and let it lovingly embrace your face for still more time to come
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