VACCINE TEAM: Can a fully vaccinated person still transmit COVID-19 to an unvaccinated person?

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - You are probably like most of us, anxious to wrap your arms around someone you love without worrying about COVID-19.

As more people across the Carolinas complete the vaccination process, the Vaccine Team is getting questions from viewers who want to see family members.

Grace asked the Vaccine Team: “Can a fully vaccinated person still transmit COVID-19 to an unvaccinated person?”

Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for people two weeks after their second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two weeks from the Johnson and Johnson single-shot vaccine.

In a report, last updated March 8, the CDC says fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID19. Because this virus and the vaccines are so new, the agency is using “real-world” effectiveness.

Real-world vaccine effectiveness: Preliminary analyses from the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel demonstrate that a two-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccination series is highly effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection (including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections). In the United States, the effectiveness of mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) was 89% against SARS-CoV-2 infection; vaccinated persons who were diagnosed with COVID-19 had a 60% lower hospitalization rate than unvaccinated persons 14. Among U.K. healthcare personnel, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination was 86% effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection 15. In U.K. adults aged ≥ 80 years, including those with multiple underlying medical conditions, vaccine efficacy against symptomatic disease was estimated at 85% 16. In Israel, two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was 90–94% effective against a spectrum of illness: asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic COVID-19, as well as specifically severe COVID-19 17. Preliminary data from Israel suggest that persons vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine who develop COVID-19 have a four-fold lower viral load than unvaccinated persons 18. This observation may indicate reduced transmissibility, as viral load has been identified as a key driver of transmission 19.

Keep in mind the CDC says these recommendations are fluid. They might change as we get more people fully vaccinated across the country.

The report offered these recommendations:

“Fully vaccinated people can:

If you have a question for the WBTV Vaccine Team, submit it here.

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