Can You Still Spread Covid After Being Vaccinated?

George J. Ziogas

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has different guidelines for people who have been vaccinated against Covid than those who have not received a vaccine. Does this mean that you can still spread Covid after being vaccinated or not?

Because Covid is a new virus, scientists are still in the process of answering that question. However, current research suggests that the risk of spreading Covid after being vaccinated is very low.

The Scientific Method

According to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Edward Jenner used the scientific method to develop the first vaccine. Because of Jenner’s smallpox vaccine, first tested in 1796, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared smallpox eliminated in 1980. Vaccine technology has helped to stop the spread of many other contagious diseases over the last 200 years.

The scientific method involves four steps, including:

· Observation

· Hypothesis

· Test

· Conclusion

For vaccines, researchers first observe and identify people who are ill from a contagious disease. They determine what is causing the illness, like the Covid virus. Researchers have also observed that people who have an infectious disease spread the disease to others, but those that have recovered no longer get sick or spread the illness.

Scientists hypothesize that a small dose of the virus will cause people to become immune to the illness without developing the disease.

Researchers test their hypothesis to determine if they have correctly:

· Identified what causes the disease

· What dose of vaccine is needed to build immunity

· If immunity stops the spread of the disease

· How long immunity lasts

Testing is first done in a laboratory using animals. If the results show that the hypothesis is correct, testing is done with human subjects. Based on the results, they can conclude if the vaccine they developed is safe and effective.

The Spread of Covid

The Covid virus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and sends droplets of saliva or mucus into the air. According to a BMC Infectious Diseases study, infectious droplets move through the air and expose other people to the Covid virus.

The Covid virus enters the body through mucus membranes like those in your nose, mouth, and eyes. If someone with Covid is physically near you, you could be exposed to infectious droplets when they cough, sneeze or talk.

Usually, people infected with a virus can spread it right before and while they feel sick. For example, you can spread the influenza virus for one day before you feel ill, then for five to seven days while you are sick. The CDC estimates that people with Covid can spread it for two days before they feel ill and for up to 10 days after getting sick.

The time between being exposed and feeling sick is known as the incubation period. During the incubation period, the virus reproduces inside your body. When the virus overwhelms your immune system and is present in your cells, you can spread it to others. You may spread the virus before feeling sick because of the amount of virus in your system, even if the amount isn’t enough to make you feel sick yet.

According to a journal Epidemiology and Infection study, Covid can also be spread by people with asymptomatic disease. These are people who are infectious but do not feel ill or get sick.

They may not know they have enough virus in their system to spread it because they never feel sick. The CDC issued social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines because asymptomatic people can spread Covid without being aware they are infectious.

Covid Vaccine Prevention

The clinical trials of the Covid vaccines showed they were between 85%-95% effective in preventing people from becoming infected with the virus. If you are not infected, you can’t spread Covid through coughing, sneezing, or talking.

But the vaccines are not 100% effective, meaning there is still a small risk you could get the disease. And because you may be asymptomatic, you could then spread Covid to others without knowing it.

Smallpox showed that when enough people are vaccinated or have had a contagious disease, the virus may die off and no longer infect anyone. It is too early to know if the Covid vaccine will have that same effect. While you are safer with the vaccine, the risk of spreading Covid after vaccination is not zero.

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