STAY VIGILANT, COVID-19 VACCINES AREN’T FOOLPROOF



By Akin Ojumu

This morning, a colleague of mine – who is a physician and for whom I’d use the pseudonym JGS – sent the following e-mail to the group to call out sick.


On September 10, 2021, at 7:00 am, JGS (jgs&&&&@nih.gov) wrote:

All, 

I am going to take a sick day today. I have a respiratory illness and I feel terrible. I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but 4 months after my last dose, I have now tested positive for COVID (by the rapid test) and will be quarantining for the next 2 weeks – but plan to work once I feel a bit better.

Thanks,

JGS


Upon, reading the e-mail, I felt terrible for my colleague. So, I replied with the following:

Hi JGS,

I’m sorry to hear about this rather distressing news.

I wish you quick and full recovery.

Akin


Subsequently, my colleague and I had the following e-mail exchange:

JGS: Thanks, Akin. I was not expecting a positive COVID test…

AKIN: Do you have any idea how you caught it?

JGS: No, I don’t. But I wasn’t wearing a mask when I was out.

AKIN: Oh no! That’s not good.

JGS: I know. It was a dumb thing for me to have done.

AKIN: We cannot afford to let our guards down, especially with this Delta variant thing running wild.

JGS: I know, right? I was just careless.

AKIN: Anyways, take care of yourself my friend and get well soon. 

JGS: Thanks, Akin. Much appreciated.


Now, why am I sharing this?

Well, simple. The COVID-19 vaccine does not confer 100 percent protection from contracting COVID-19 and just because you have taken the vaccines doesn’t make you invincible. Even if you are fully vaccinated, there’s still a chance of getting infected and you may come down with mild to moderate COVID illness which can be debilitating and uncomfortable. 

This lack of 100 percent effectiveness is not limited to COVID vaccines. No vaccine gives you perfect protection, as there are always breakthrough infections. The benefit of getting fully vaccinated lies in the fact that breakthrough infections are generally mild and moderate in those who are fully vaccinated. The chances of ending up in the hospital or intensive care unit is pretty remote for the vaccinated.

My colleague was fully vaccinated but stopped wearing face masks when he went outside. As a result of carelessness, caught COVID and got so sick as to need sick leave.

I’m therefore encouraging everyone to stay vigilant and not let their guards down. We must continue to take those simple preventive measures that, when done properly and consistently, have been proven to offer protection from getting infected with COVID.

GET VACCINATED
Authorized COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from COVID-19.

Do not delay. Do not procrastinate. You should get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.

WEAR A MASK
Continue to wear face mask when you are outdoors.

If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.

STAY 6 FEET AWAY FROM OTHERS
Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.

Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.

Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people.

Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

AVOID CROWDS AND POORLY VENTILATED SPACES
Limit your exposure by avoiding large gatherings if and when possible. 

Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters puts you at higher risk for COVID-19.

Avoid indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible.

If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.

WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN
Maintain personal hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

COVER COUGHS AND SNEEZES
If you are wearing a mask: You can cough or sneeze into your mask. Put on a new, clean mask as soon as possible and wash your hands.

If you are not wearing a mask: Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw used tissues in the trash.

CLEAN AND DISINFECT
Clean high touch surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If someone is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Use a household disinfectant product from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19) external icon according to manufacturer’s labeled directions.

MONITOR YOUR HEALTH DAILY
Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.

Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.

Take your temperature if symptoms develop.

Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

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