Delivering care in the new virtual world…
Vaccination Effectiveness and Lessons Learned – In recent weeks as the pandemic has continued to wax and wane, one of the arguments against the need for vaccination has been that vaccinations do not work. In fact, vaccination does not always prevent infection – especially from the more recent Omicron variant. BUT, that doesn’t mean one should not be vaccinated!! I’m a case in point. I’m fully vaccinated and boosted according the schedules put forward by the CDC and Moderna (my vaccination of choice – actually, availability at the time). My story? As prep for a minor surgical procedure, I sequestered myself for two weeks prior to the surgery in an effort to assure that I would not become infected prior to the procedure. I was successful – except for one small error. Thinking ahead (😊), I went to our local grocery store for an errand to pick up some food at 7:00 AM in the morning when it opens. There were three of us in the store + staff – all masked. Whew! I made it. Then, I decided to go to the Post Office because I had received a notice of a package in my POB. When I arrived, there was a young man standing at the common table going through his mail with a cough.
Argh! I decided to wait until he left. I did. When he left I immediately went to my POB. Then, I picked up my mail but made the mistake of going to the same common table and went through my mail. All of this was done wearing a N-95 mask, so I was protected.
The next morning I got up to an every so slight irritation in the back of my throat but it was gone by mid-morning. I then went to the clinic as directed for my COVID-19 PSR test. All went well. I went home and came back two days later no worse for the wear but with the sore throat a bit worse. When I approached the desk to check in, the clerk simply held up a note that said: “Covid Positive”. I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Cautious. Dr. Knows-the-Road with a positive COVID test!
So, what’s the moral of the story? First, if you do have the vaccination and booster shots, your likelihood of death is 0.1% compared to a 9.74% chance if you’re not vaccinated (SEE above). That’s the ultimate bad outcome but less bad outcomes are more common. Second, you can get infected from COVID-19 – especially with Omicron – even with the prior vaccination and booster shots. It is not uncommon but it is also most commonly less serious. In essence, there is a meaningful but less problematic chance of infection!! BTW – I infected my wife (and Associate Editor) and she had a few more problems and sequelae than me even though she was equally vaccinated and boosted.
The above two charts show VERY CLEARLY that the rate of hospitalization among the vaccinated crowd in minimal compared to those who forego the jab!! Also, note that the official data includes patients who have been admitted for heart problems, accidents and other issues so it likely overstates the level of hospitalization among the vaccinated. A recent study at the University of California revealed that about one-third of the admissions are in this latter category. In New York, it’s even higher at 43% of the hospitalizations were individuals who had COVID-19 but were admitted for other reasons. So, if you know anyone who has not been vaccinated – share the data. The graphs above should open their eyes to the realities of the current environment. If their eyes are not opened, they run the risk of closing them forever...
The other lesson here is that while wearing an N-95 mask is important, walking into a haze or cloud of leftover coughing is not a smart idea. It’s better to let the cloud dissipate or just move on and come back to the task at hand another day 😊.
 Sources: New York City Department of Health, Washington Department of Health