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Can you still spread COVID-19 after you get vaccinated?

Coronavirus
Posted at 2:37 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 17:59:04-05

(WXYZ) — As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, many are asking if it’s possible for them to still spread the virus.

We know that Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing people from getting ill with COVID-19. But there is very limited data when it comes to whether or not the vaccines actually prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission. Moderna has some preliminary data that suggests that their vaccine had a two-thirds reduction in asymptomatic infections, and that could translate into lower transmission numbers. But, the data is small which means we really can't draw any solid conclusions from this. The good news is that both Moderna and Pfizer have said that they are continuing to collect research on asymptomatic infection and transmission. So in time, scientists may be able to answer this.

Vaccinations do help with herd immunity. That’s when enough people have been exposed that infections are less likely to happen. We need roughly 75 to 80 percent of our population to get vaccinated or develop immunity through infection before we can say that we’ve achieved herd immunity. So it’s extremely important for folks to get the vaccine when it becomes available to their group. The sooner we all can get vaccinated, the faster the route to herd immunity.

The CDC has said it's not known what antibody levels are needed to protect against reinfection. But reinfections, in general, are considered to be rare. Having said that, if COVID-19 follows in the footsteps of other coronaviruses like your common cold, it’s possible that reinfection might happen later down the road.

Lastly, just because you’re fully vaccinated, doesn’t give you the green light to brush off safety precautions. While you may be highly protected from getting sick with COVID-19, you still might be able to spread it to others if you get infected. Remember: the vaccine doesn’t infect you, it helps train your system to recognize and fight the virus. So everyone will still need to wear a mask, wash hands, social distance, and do all the safety precautions until our federal health officials tell us otherwise.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.