Once you’re fully vaccinated, your chances of getting a serious case of COVID-19 are vanishingly small:
The clinical and real-world evidence for the vaccines is now pretty clear: They are extremely effective at protecting a person from Covid-19.
The clinical trials put the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines’ efficacy rates at 95-plus percent and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s at more than 70 percent. All three vaccines also drove the risk of hospitalization and death to nearly zero.
The real-world evidence has backed this up. In Israel, the country with the most advanced vaccination campaign, the data shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been more than 90 percent effective at preventing infections, with even higher rates of blocking symptomatic disease, hospitalization, and death. You can see this in the country’s overall statistics: After Israel almost fully reopened its economy in March, once the majority of the population had at least one dose, daily new Covid-19 cases fell by more than 95 percent. And daily deaths are now in the single digits and, at times, zero.
The research also shows the vaccines are effective against the coronavirus variants that have been discovered so far. While some variants seem better able to get around immunity, the vaccines are so powerful that they still by and large overwhelm and defeat the variants in the end.
It’s this evidence that’s made experts confident the vaccines let them stop worrying about their own Covid-19 risk. “I am fully vaccinated and have resumed normal activities,” Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of California San Francisco, told me. “I have gone indoor dining, went to my first movie theater, and would go to a bar if there was an opportunity!”
The diminished concern applies to others who are vaccinated, too. Smith spoke of having her fully vaccinated in-laws visit this coming weekend — “the first time we’ve seen them in person since December 2019.”
There have been some breakthrough Covid-19 cases among those who are vaccinated. But they tend to be milder infections, less likely to transmit, and far from common. “This is less than 0.01 percent of the vaccinated,” Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at the Yale School of Medicine, told me, citing CDC data. “So extremely rare!”
To this point, 0.0000973% of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. have gotten breakthrough infections. These vaccines are incredibly effective and it’s worth emphasizing that as much as possible as we try to persuade the reluctant.