Coronavirus infections are on the rise again in the United States. While more than 99% of deaths are among those unvaccinated, anecdotal reports abound of breakthrough infections or cases of fully vaccinated people who still test positive for Covid-19 — including several New York Yankee baseball players.
How worried should vaccinated people be of contracting Covid-19? If you’re vaccinated, are you still able to transmit coronavirus to others, such as young children too young to get the vaccine themselves? Does the more transmissible Delta variant change the equation, and what precautions should vaccinated people still be taking?
To give us some guidance during these uncertain times, we turned to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She’s also the author of a new book out next week, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”
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Dr. Leana Wen: Yes, they can. Here’s what the Covid-19 vaccines do. First, and most importantly, they protect you very well against severe disease. That’s key. This is a disease that has taken the lives of over 600,000 Americans and millions of people around the world. If you get the vaccine, you know that you are very unlikely to become severely ill to the point of needing to be hospitalized or succumb to the disease. According to federal health officials, 99.5% of deaths from Covid-19 are now among the unvaccinated. That is a real testament to the power of vaccines.
The vaccines also protect against becoming ill from Covid-19, but this protection is not 100%. With the Delta variant, the vaccines maybe even less effective against mild disease — though still effective against severe disease.