For many fully vaccinated Americans, the Delta surge spoiled what should’ve been a glorious summer. Those who had cast their masks aside months ago were asked to dust them off. Many are still taking no chances. Some have even returned to all the same precautions they took before getting their shots, including avoiding the company of other fully vaccinated people.
Among this last group, a common refrain I’ve heard to justify their renewed vigilance is that “vaccinated people are just as likely to spread the coronavirus.”
This misunderstanding, born out of confusing statements from public-health authorities and misleading media headlines, is a shame. It is resulting in unnecessary fear among vaccinated people, all the while undermining the public’s understanding of the importance—and effectiveness—of getting vaccinated.
So let me make one thing clear: Vaccinated people are not as likely to spread the coronavirus as the unvaccinated. Even in the United States, where more than half of the population is fully vaccinated, the unvaccinated are responsible for the overwhelming majority of transmission.
I understand why people are confused. In April, after months of public-health experts cautiously promoting the merits of vaccination, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited new real-world data of the shots’ effectiveness to jubilantly proclaim that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus.”
The CDC later walked back her comment, but headlines such as “It’s Official: Vaccinated People Don’t Transmit COVID-19” had already given many the impression that in addition to their remarkable protection against infection with the coronavirus, the shots also prevented them from passing the illness on to others. Read more..