The False Dilemma of Post-Vaccination Risk

The False Dilemma of Post-Vaccination Risk

Every day, more than 1 million American deltoids are being loaded with a vaccine. The ensuing immune response has proved to be extremely effective—essentially perfect—at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. And now, with yet another highly effective vaccine on the verge of approval, that pace should further accelerate in the weeks to come.


This is creating a legion of people who no longer need to fear getting sick, and are desperate to return to “normal” life. Yet the messaging on whether they might still carry and spread the disease—and thus whether it’s really safe for them to resume their unmasked, un-distanced lives—has been oblique. Anthony Fauci said last week on CNN that “it is conceivable, maybe likely,” that vaccinated people can get infected with the coronavirus and then spread it to someone else, and that more will be known about this likelihood “in some time, as we do some follow-up studies.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had been no more definitive on Meet the Press a few days before, where she told the host, “We don’t have a lot of data yet to inform exactly the question that you’re asking.”


At this point in the pandemic, with deliverance in sight for so many people, the vagueness can justifiably be maddening. For a year now, the public-health message has been to wait. First we waited until it was safe to go outside. Then we waited  for vaccines to be developed, tested, and approved. Now people are being asked to wait their turn to get vaccinated; th ..