The pandemic isn't over, but we are entering into a new phase of managing Covid-19. Every day, more than three million people are being vaccinated. As we continue to move forward, it is important to constantly evaluate the risks associated with our behaviors and use science to guide us.
Many people are still experiencing fear and anxiety around Covid-19 and the vaccines, and that's understandable—but don’t let your fears outweigh the facts. Here are a few updates to keep in mind:
1. Getting vaccinated is smart and safe.
The L.A. Times reports that approximately 30% of the public does not plan to get vaccinated, mainly because of concerns about the side effects. In that same article, Dr. Nicola Klein, director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, explains that minor side effects such as headache, fatigue, and fever are quite common and to be expected. She said, “It means your body is appropriately responding to your vaccine and generating an immune response.” The shots are safe, and the protection they provide against Covid-19 outweighs the risk of more serious side effects.
2. Young people should be vaccinated, too.
While young people might not get as sick as the elderly, Michelle Cespedes, MD, MS, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, says they can feel the effects of Covid. She says, “Even people who had a mild case may experience long-term effects. Evidence suggests that Covid-19, like any other virus that causes inflammation, can affect the lungs, the nerves to the brain, and even the brain itself.” One common side effect of Covid is “brain fog,” a collection of symptoms related to sluggish thinking and poor memory. She recommends that young people get the vaccine to help protect others and limit the spread of new variants.
3. It's very rare for fully vaccinated people to contract Covid.
Last week, you may have seen headlines about new CDC data showing that 5,800 fully vaccinated Americans had contracted Covid. This is not a reason for concern. As this New York Times piece puts it, "That may sound like a big number, but it indicates that a vaccinated person’s chances of getting Covid are about one in 11,000." In fact, the article points out, a car trip is more risky: "About 100 Americans are likely to die in car crashes today. The new federal data suggests that either zero or one vaccinated person will die today from Covid."
Zero risk is not the goal.
Covid may be around forever, so we’re learning how to manage the risks, just as we still ride in cars despite the risk of a collision. If you’re fully vaccinated and still feeling anxious about returning to social activities, that’s normal. Read these tips for help.