But the Vaccines don’t “prevent” COVID-19

by Dr Makini McGuire-Brown

Sensible Talk!

I had moved on from writing COVID-19 articles because I thought I had explained all I could! But alas, there is more to explain yet it seems! There is some skepticism about whether the vaccine is preventative. “If I can still get COVID why should I take the vaccine. Aren’t vaccines supposed to prevent the disease?” So, let’s unpack this!

We need to understand two things to address these concerns.

  1. What does it mean to prevent disease?
  2. Vaccines and the population

Firstly, there is a distinction to be made between infection and disease. For one to be infected it means that the virus has started to replicate inside of your body. For one to have a disease it means that your cells have begun to die because of the effects of the virus.

So let’s review how one gets infected from most respiratory viruses, of which the new coronavirus which causes COVID-19 is one. Most spread happens through droplets. Tiny droplets that spread from one infected person, over to another person. Once this virus gets inside of your body it immediately looks for your cells to begin using your cells to replicate, that is, make more of itself.

Does the vaccine prevent droplets from reaching you? No!

Does the vaccine decrease the replication of the virus? Yes!

Does it do this 100%? Not in everyone; depending on your immune system, there are varying effects of the vaccine. Because…

Let’s review how vaccines work: They show the immune system evidence of this dangerous foreign force; the immune system responds by mounting the defense, of which antibodies are a part. Therefore, the effects of a vaccine depend on the strength of your immune system. The strength of your immune system depends on your general health and co-existence of other diseases.

Now, onto disease. Disease means that the virus has replicated to an extent that overwhelms your body. The extent is proportional to the symptoms and complications (in most circumstances, barring an immunocompromised state). In simple terms, disease makes you sick, sometimes seriously sick. This has adverse effects on your organs and may lead to death.

Does the vaccine prevent against severe disease? Yes!

Does the vaccine prevent against all disease? Yes!

Does it do this to the maximum level in every individual? No! Because…. (Review how vaccines work a few paragraphs above.)

So the idea that “I can still get the virus, so I won’t take the vaccine”, is flawed. The entire point is to prevent you and others from getting sick and we will touch on the “and others” in a bit, but for yourself, if you don’t want to get sick, take the vaccine.

The vaccine helps your immune system to prevent as much of the virus as possible from entering your cells if you do get sprayed with virus-filled saliva. The less virus that enters your cell, is the less virus that replicates. Viruses can only make more of themselves when they enter your cell. If you keep out most of them you will not get sick. There are some people that will be completely protected by their immune system’s response to the vaccine. Not a single virus will enter a single cell. There are others who will still get mild symptoms because a few got in and replicated. Both are better than not giving your body the head start it deserves! You owe it to your hard-working immune system to give it a heads up about what is about to attack it! That is exactly what the vaccine does.

Vaccines have worked in the same basic way for a long time. Every vaccine only prepares the immune system. They don’t prevent droplets from spraying you. They prepare your immune system to instantly fight the virus thereby preventing disease due to no or minimal replication with a strong immune response or for those with a weaker immune system is prevents severe forms of it. This is no different to any other vaccine that has ever been made, they all have the same basic purpose.

Hopefully that is clear for you as an individual. Now let’s move onto the real issue, the population. To end a pandemic you need an immunized population, POPULATION!

Recall that we just mentioned that viral replication is eliminated or significantly decreased by the immune system’s response to the vaccine. The lower a person’s viral load, the less they are able to spread the virus. The less virus in me is the less I can spread to you! What did we learn that helped prevent viral replication? The vaccine! This is not about you being able to “handle COVID”. While you are handling it with you immune system fighting its best fight, you are a breeding ground! A breeding ground for replication and mutation! Out of you comes a stronger more devious virus!

Regardless of how “strong” you are, your immune system goes through a series of phases before it can get rid of the viral intruder. It has to recognize it, send out the natural killer cells, learn more about it, then send out the antibodies and then create the long-lasting antibodies. If you are healthy your immune system is fast but guess what is even faster- viral replication! It is estimated that entry into a cell only takes about 10 minutes post virus-filled saliva droplet. By becoming a breeding ground you are endangering the lives of others and prolonging this pandemic. Please get your viral replication under control by getting vaccinated.

In case it is unclear: The vaccine will give your body a head start. It would have already mounted an immune response and produced anitbodies thereby allowing for immediate attack, thereby preventing or reducing viral replication thereby reducing the viral load (the amount of virus in you) thereby preventing you from spreading the virus. You can’t spread what you don’t have. You can only spread a little if you only have a little. The less you have to spread, the less likely it is for someone else to become infected.

Now just imagine if everybody prevented themselves from becoming a breeding ground. What happens to a virus when it has nowhere to replicate? It dies! Viruses can only survive with a host to leech off of. Thus, by vaccinating the POPULATION, we eliminate or most times, significantly suppress the microorganism. Et voila, live concert, at the very front, in front of the stage, here we come!

For the love of all that is sane, logical and good: GO GET VACCINATED!

Need extra COVID information? Check out all of our COVID-related articles here.

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Published by Dr. Makini McGuire-Brown

God-Lover, Mother, Wife, Physician, MBA, Language-Lover, Arts-Lover, Happy Caribbean Girl!

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