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Doctors say COVID-19 vaccine is effective, not perfect

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 25,000 fully vaccinated people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 as of Oct. 12.

The CDC data shows about 85 percent of those deaths were people 65 or older. It also said fully vaccinated people are 11 times less likely to die from the virus.

Monday, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell died from the virus despite being fully vaccinated. The retired four-star general was battling multiple myeloma.

Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai said Powell’s condition weakened his immune system to the point where the vaccine couldn’t help him build enough immunity to the virus.

He said that’s why it’s important more people get vaccinated, to help stop the virus from spreading to immunocompromised people.

“The higher level of immunity that we have within the community prevents the disease from spreading especially to those that are most susceptible, those that are immunocompromised, those that are suffering from certain disease or those that are on certain medications,” Rai said.

Marshfield Clinic infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Sundaram compares one’s fight against COVID-19 to a race.

“COVID-19 infection is a race between your immune system and the virus,” she said. “The virus is trying to outpace your immune system and replicate faster than your immune system can kill it. If we get vaccinated, your immune system has like a way bigger head start.”

Sundaram said as more people get vaccinated, more immune systems can quickly win the race. This means the virus dies quicker, leaving it with fewer places to spread.

“Vaccines are one of those really special public health interventions that have a double benefit,” she said. “They benefit us and they benefit other people. So when we’re getting vaccinated against COVID-19, we’re saving lives.”

Rai said another important live-saving step people can take to protect their immunocompromised loved ones is wearing a mask.

“When we are in public, when there’s high areas of spread, prevent the spread of it by wearing a mask,” Rai said. “And when we’re around those that are immunocompromised or at extreme ages, that we protect them by masking as well.”

Rai and Sundaram said it’s important people who are fully vaccinated also get a third dose or booster when recommended.

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