How vaccines protect communities

While individuals who are vaccinated feel relief that they’re better protected, the rollout of vaccines to anyone in their community is still good news.

Medical worker wearing a face mask and latex gloves holds a syringe tagged with a vaccine label.

Vaccines protect communities as a whole, even as health care workers aim to get more people vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

Most of the initial news stories and other information rightly centered on how effective a vaccine was at protecting the person who received it. That’s what those first studies were designed to do. Take the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, for example, authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use and developed based on mRNA research from the lab of Drew Weissman, a professor of infectious diseases at the Perelman School of Medicine, along with Katalin Karikó, an adjunct associate professor. Going off initial reports and what’s known about vaccines in general, experts believe the COVID-19 vaccinations likely offer up protection to others. However, the limited amount of information on how effective they really are at stopping the spread means people still need to stay diligent.

It’s possible, researchers have said, that a vaccinated person with immune protection could still be shedding the virus and potentially infect others. The virus could be living in the respiratory tract or other places.

That’s why people still need to wear a mask and continue to practice social distancing.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.