You’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19… then what happens after?

Published May 13, 2021, 8:01 AM

by Analou de Vera

Over two million Filipinos have already been able to receive their first dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, while more than 500,000 individuals have been fully vaccinated after completing the two-dose regimen.


But after getting the vaccine, there are still certain questions such as – can you still get infected with this viral disease? or how long does protection from COVID-19 vaccine last? According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is still a possibility that a fully vaccinated person can catch COVID-19.

“COVID-19 vaccines are effective. However, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it,” the CDC said in its website.

The CDC said that “no vaccine prevents illness 100 percent of the time.” “With effectiveness of 90 percent or higher, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick and some may be hospitalized or die from COVID-19,” it said.

“It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections, but not have symptoms (asymptomatic infections),” it added.

The CDC said that another scenario would be the person has yet to fully develop the protection needed after getting fully vaccinated.

“It’s possible a person could be infected just before or just after vaccination and still get sick,” it said.

“It typically takes about two weeks for the body to build protection after vaccination, so a person could get sick if the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection,” it added.

If a fully vaccinated person contracted COVID-19, their symptoms “might be less severe,” the CDC said.

“Even though a small percentage of fully vaccinated people will get sick, vaccination will protect most people from getting sick. There also is some evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe in people who get vaccinated but still get sick,” the CDC explained.

“Despite this, some fully vaccinated people will still be hospitalized and die. However, the overall risk of hospitalization and death among fully vaccinated people will be much lower than among people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated,” it added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that health experts are still studying how long the protection from a vaccine lasts.

“We don’t know yet how long immunity lasts from the vaccines that we have at hand right now. We’re following people who have received vaccinations to find out whether or not their immune response is durable over time and the length of time for which they’re protected against the disease,” said Dr. Katherine O’Brien, WHO’s Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals during the organization’s “Science in 5” program.

“So, we’re really going to have to wait for time to pass to see just how long these vaccines last,” she added.

Practicing health protocols still imperative

The WHO official emphasized that it is still important to follow the basic health protocols even after vaccination “as we’re still learning about what the vaccines can do.” “Right now, we’re in a situation where there’s still very broad transmission in many countries, the transmission is just out of control. And so for how long we need to continue these precautions is really going to depend on what communities and countries can do to really crush this virus, to crush the transmission,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien also noted that vaccines are not yet suitable for children.

“Remember that we don’t actually have the evidence yet for using the vaccine in some age groups. We don’t have the evidence for use of vaccines in children, for instance. So for the time being, those age groups are going to continue to be at risk of both disease and infection and being able to transmit to other people,” she said.

Another reason, said to O’Brien, is that the “vaccines are in short supply, so we don’t have enough vaccines yet out in the community to protect everybody.” O’Brien explained that “time is going to tell” on how long people need to adhere to the health protocols.

“Once we get broad vaccination coverage in the community, when we know more about what the vaccine can actually do to prevent infection, we can slowly start taking our foot off the pedal of these other interventions and make sure that the transmission, again, doesn’t start to escalate again,” she added.