Vaccination is Our Pathway to Overcoming COVID-19 and Developing Variants
Are you still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Do family members still have questions?
Written by John Ferrari
With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, particularly related to the Delta variant, we continue to encourage unvaccinated community members to get the vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones. Yes, breakthrough cases are occurring, in which vaccinated individuals are developing COVID-19. However, in those cases, the vaccine has helped reduce the severity and duration of the illness. The vaccine works.
While California is not a current hot spot for new infections, there is a surge happening here, is there a hurry to get vaccinated?
The virus causing COVID-19 is still widespread throughout the United States, including Southern California. The total number of people who’ve become ill with COVID-19 – including those who’ve become seriously ill, requiring hospitalization, and those who have died from COVID-19 – will only increase. People are coming down with COVID-19 every day and, tragically, people are dying of COVID-19 every day, right here in Southern California. Why wait and take chances when a safe and effective vaccine is available right now?
COVID-19 has been a pandemic for 18 months, and I haven’t gotten sick yet, so I’ll be OK without the vaccine.
Just because you haven’t come down with COVID-19 yet doesn’t mean you won’t become sick eventually. The Delta variant, responsible for more than 80% of newly reported COVID-19 cases in the United States, is particularly concerning because it is more than twice as infectious as the earlier strain of the virus. The Delta variant is even more contagious than the common cold or flu.
I’m young – if I get COVID-19 it won’t be serious.
Even younger individuals with no other medical issues can become very ill, and possibly die, from COVID-19. In mid-August, children accounted for 18% of newly reported cases across the nation. The newer Delta variant seems to affect younger individuals more than the original strain did. At Torrance Memorial, most of the patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
There are so many breakthrough cases that getting the vaccine doesn’t even seem worth it.
There are some breakthrough cases – in which vaccinated individuals still contract COVID-19 – but the vaccines are very effective. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for example, is almost 90% effective in preventing symptomatic cases, and 96% effective in preventing hospitalization, in individuals infected with the Delta variant. At Torrance Memorial, nearly all patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. If you’ve been fully vaccinated the odds of coming down with a breakthrough case are small, and the odds of a serious case are even smaller.
COVID-19 is just something we’re going to have to learn to live with, like the flu.
Some epidemiologists believe the virus causing COVID-19 will become endemic; that is, it will continue to circulate and cause illness, much like the flu. Just as a flu shot reduces your risk of catching the flu and decreases the severity of your illness if you do come down with the flu the COVID-19 vaccine reduces your risk of catching COVID-19 and, even more, your risk of serious illness from the virus. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is much higher than most strains of the flu—possibly 10 times higher. However, COVID-19 vaccines are much more effective than flu vaccines, too.They decrease your risk of catching COVID-19 much more than a flu shot decreases your risk of catching the flu.
The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) haven’t been tested enough.
mRNA vaccine technology has been studied for decades, and the COVID-19 vaccines are held to the same safety and effectiveness standards the FDA uses to approve all vaccines. They were evaluated in tens of thousands of individuals in clinical tests, and since they were approved for use more than 360 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the United States. These vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. If you are uncomfortable receiving an mRNA vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available and is a “traditional” vaccine.
For more information and to find a vaccine clinic near your, visit MyTurn.ca.gov.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Crank Up Your Protection with a Third Dose “Booster” Shot
By now you have probably heard about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots – here’s what you need to know:
Why do I need a booster?
The vaccines remain very effective at protecting people from COVID-19, especially serious cases requiring hospitalization. However, the vaccines’ effectiveness may wane over time.
When can I get a booster shot?
Individuals with compromised immune systems should talk to their doctor to see if they are eligible to receive a third dose right now. The FDA is currently reviewing data for expanding eligibility to include all individuals, starting eight months after receiving a second dose. An announcement is expected at the end of September, but not confirmed as Advantage went to print. Torrance Memorial will not be holding public vaccination clinics. Please consult with your doctor first and visit MyTurn.ca.gov to find a vaccination clinic near you.
What vaccine should I get?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends individuals receive a third shot of the same vaccine they received earlier, whether it was Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
What if I received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
It’s likely a booster shot will be recommended, but at the time Advantage went to print the CDC was still evaluating the data for that vaccine.
What’s the bottom line?
Studies show that overall the vaccines are remarkably effective in stopping COVID-19: 55% effective against all infections, 80% against symptomatic infection and at least 90% against hospitalization. However, to stay ahead of the virus – especially the more contagious Delta variant – a booster shot maximizes protection.