As more and more people get the vaccine, they are wondering what they should do when they're with those who are unvaccinated. Can they contract Covid? Do they need to wear a mask? How effective are vaccinations against Covid variants? Sarasota Memorial Hospital infectious disease specialist Dr. Manuel Gordillo answers questions about what to know once you are vaccinated.
Can you still get Covid if you're vaccinated?
"Yes, you can still get Covid, as protection from the vaccine is not 100 percent. However, breakthrough infections are very rare and the cases tend to be mild or asymptomatic. The vaccines are extremely effective and safe, but they are not magic."
Are there vaccinated people who should be taking more precautions?
"Vaccinated individuals, as a general rule, have little to worry about, unless they are severely immunocompromised. Vaccinated individuals may choose to wear a mask to protect the unvaccinated. Because we don't yet know how effective the vaccines are for immunocompromised people, those with autoimmune diseases and weakened immune systems should continue to follow all CDC guidance for Covid-19 prevention, as they are at higher risk for severe complications from Covid-19 infection."
I'm partially vaccinated. Am I protected?
"Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors and to practice hand hygiene and social distancing in public places until two weeks have passed since their final vaccine dose. Outdoors, no masks are necessary, unless people are gathering in large crowds that do not allow for social distance. Indoors, unvaccinated people are at risk of acquiring the virus from other unvaccinated people, and should wear a mask when indoors to protect themselves and others."
How worrisome is the delta variant?
"The protection afforded by the vaccines is very significant against all the variants, but, rarely, breakthrough cases do occur. Studies indicate that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is about 88 percent effective against the delta strain (two weeks after final dose), and researchers expect similar results to be announced from Moderna vaccine studies. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson-Janssen vaccine appears to be about 60 percent effective against the delta strain."
Is the pandemic over?
"We've certainly reached a turning point that's worth celebrating, but the pandemic is far from over. We continue to see thousands of hospitalizations across the nation every day and hundreds of deaths, including a disproportionate share among people of color and in communities with limited access to vaccination opportunities.
"If we want to end the pandemic, we have to do all we can to encourage those around us to get vaccinated, to protect children too young for vaccination and those who are immunocompromised and may not be fully protected by the current Covid-19 vaccines."
For more information on vaccinations in Sarasota County, visit the Department of Health's website here or call (941) 861-2900.