Why people are getting COVID-19 even after getting vaccinated

Health experts suggest vaccination still works because it minimizes the effects on people who have taken both the doses, so preventing hospitalization in a lot of instances

India opened its vaccination drive to people under 45 years on May 1

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stresses on increasing the reach of vaccination amid increasing COVID cases, there are concerns of re-infection among vaccinated individuals.

Health experts suggest vaccination still works because it minimizes the effects on people who have taken both the doses, so preventing hospitalization in a lot of instances.

For example, take the case of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi. As many as 37 doctors working turned positive, though most of them had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Very few had to be hospitalised while most showed mild symptoms.

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King George’s Medical University (KGMU) vice-chancellor Lt Prof Bipin Puri got infected 11 days after taking the second jab. Prof Puri still suggests vaccine is good because it prevents critical illness caused due to COVID-19.

Also read: On live TV, nurse faints after getting Pfizer vaccine shot in US

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions that might pop up in your mind with regards to vaccination.

Can I get infected after taking the vaccine?

The possibility is less, but cannot be ruled out even with so-called highly effective vaccines. “I won’t be surprised if that happens. You will see breakthrough infections in any vaccination when you’re vaccinating literally millions of people,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As for the efficacy of the vaccine, a US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report says that a person can consider himself 90% protected two weeks after the second dose.

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria told CNN-News18 that a vaccinated person may still get the infection, but the person will have mild illness or at best remain asymptomatic.

Also read: Indian Medical Association urges PM Modi to start vaccinating citizens above 18 years

Why does re-infection occur?

There could be several reasons for it. One reason could be improper vaccination. Though the possibility is rare, mishandling the jabs and injecting in the vaccine in the wrong place could become the cause for re-infection. It is also possible that a person may get exposed to the virus even before the second jab is administered.

Besides, weak immunity and age may also cause re-infection.

How long am I protected from the virus after vaccination?

Studies are still on to find out how long a vaccine could protect a person from the virus. This is primarily because there are way too many vaccines right now and many more will be added in the days to come. Another unanswered question is can a vaccinated person still spread the infection. And, what about virus mutation? Will my vaccine work against the UK or Brazilian strain? These questions have no clear cut answer so far.

Dr Guleria says the immunity may last for 9-12 months after second dose.

Beth Moore, Professor of Microbiology and Immunity at Michigan Medicine, said, “We know for sure that the vaccine is still effective because the mutations haven’t changed the basic structure of the spike protein so much that the neutralizing antibodies are not effective.”

The mutated strains are still being studied to recommend modifications, if required.

Mask remains the best prevention

Dr VK Paul, a core member of the Union government’s COVID-19 response team, advises people to wear masks for a “long time” despite the vaccine in order to protect themselves.

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