Nothing in life is perfect, with the possible exception of avocado toast. While the Covid-19 vaccines may protect you against Covid-19, their protection is not perfect. Even after getting vaccinated , you can still catch the virus. You can still get Covid-19.
Case in point. Or rather three cases in point. According to the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), three people in Hawaii who had received both doses of either the Moderna or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine subsequently tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Additionally, a fourth person who had received the first of two doses of the vaccine ended up catching the B.1.1.7 variant of the severe acute respiratory respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2). That be a more contagious version of the SARS-CoV2.
Don’t press the panic button just because you saw this news though. In general, pressing a button labeled “Panic” is a bad idea. Plus, three people catching the Covid-19 coronavirus does not mean that the Covid-19 vaccines do not work. Getting the vaccine does not mean that a giant six-feet thick concrete condom forms around your body. The vaccine does not serve as a solid 100% effective barrier to the virus. Even though the vaccines may be quite effective at preventing more severe Covid-19, you still have a chance of getting Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated. And there is still a chance that this Covid-19 can be severe. It’s just that your chances after vaccination may be significantly lower.
Ultimately, three people is not that many people. It’s not even enough to form a four-person bobsled team or a typical boy band or a combination of the two. And it’s only a tiny fraction of the people who have been fully vaccinated to date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker, over 35 million people have gotten both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. And the following tweet from the Hawaii State Senate showed how many in Hawaii were fully vaccinated as of March 11:
With the virus spreading throughout the country, you’d expect at least a handful of cases of people developing Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated. And three is less than a handful even when the hands are very tiny.
Therefore, a few such cases alone shouldn’t dissuade you from getting vaccinated. Would you avoid wearing pants simply because someone somewhere once had his or her pants accidentally fall down? Would you ever go without pants just because you are afraid that your pants may fall down, leaving you without pants? No. That would make absolutely no sense. Wearing pants typically offers more protection than not wearing anything at all. Similarly, getting the vaccine will protect you against Covid-19 and its potential consequences better than not getting the vaccine.
Plus, just because you catch the virus after getting fully vaccinated doesn’t mean that the vaccine didn’t help you. You don’t know how much worse the infection could have been without the vaccine, unless you’ve somehow mastered time travel. And time travel may not even be possible. Otherwise, surely someone from the future would have come back and told us how to make toothpaste tubes better by now.
All of this is a reminder that you should still maintain other precautions regardless of whether you’ve already been vaccinated. The vaccine doesn’t make you Superman or Supergirl. So keep up the social distancing, staying at least six feet or one Denzel apart from others (because Denzel Washington is about six feet tall). Keep up the face mask wearing. Keep up the hand washing, singing through the first chorus of “I Touch Myself,” which is about 20 seconds, while lathering up with soap and water. Keep up all the precautions, regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated.
Think of each precaution and protective measure as a slice of Swiss cheese. Not that you should start putting face masks in your ham sandwiches but because each measure has its own set of holes in different configurations. Holes are not good whether its in your underwear or in your protection against the Covid-19 coronavirus. (Of note: your underwear does need at least three properly placed holes, perhaps four, for it to actually be underwear.) Therefore, layering on different precautions simultaneously can help cover the holes on each “slice.”
Moreover, the U.S. still is in the “danger zone” to borrow the title of the Kenny Loggins song for the movie Top Gun. Transmission of the virus remains relatively high. It’s not quite Spring yet, so the weather is not yet warm and humid enough to work in our favor. Moreover, more contagious variants of the virus seem to be spreading. Therefore, the next few weeks could spell the difference between having and not having another surge of Covid-19 cases. Another surge could further delay our society’s relative “return to normal.” So as Wilson Phillips has urged, hold on, and as Guns N’ Roses has advised, all we need is just a little patience. Failing to maintain precautions would be in essence premature relaxation.
So keep this latest news from Hawaii in proper perspective. A few Covid-19 cases among fully vaccinated people is not really a Hawaiian punch but rather is simply something to be expected. After all, clinical trials have shown that the Covid-19 vaccine can be very good. But it ain’t avocado toast.