For the majority of last year, the entire world attached its post-pandemic plans on one singular, radiant endpoint: the appearance of an effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
The echoing exhortation of ‘when I am vaccinated’ has long fabricated visions of individuals detaching from their masks, embracing their friends, and having some sort of normalcy return. Presently, there are some of the vaccinated individuals doing just that. During the weeks following the vaccinations roll out, numerous stories have circulated where persons were reported after receiving their vaccination shot, completely lowering their guard and in some very serious cases completely throwing away their masks and gathering together with others.
However, immunity to COVID-19 does not magically appear the following day after receiving the vaccination. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not approve the membership to the vaccinated club until about two weeks after receiving the last or second dose in the vaccination regiment. This is in correlation to the time when the majority of individuals are considered to have attained an adequate amount of immunity in order to protect against an asymptomatic episode of the coronavirus. It is then and only then, can persons that have been vaccinated begin to slowly and carefully alter their behavior, avoiding post-exposure quarantines, visiting the unvaccinated on a restricted basis, and congregating without masks indoors in small groups.
The injection of the vaccine in itself is significant, however, receiving the shot is purely a forerunner for what is to follow. At the end of the day, the true significance occurs in the next coming weeks subsequent to the last injection.
The aforementioned is true for every type of vaccine: The defensive characteristics takes a few days or maybe even weeks to have an impact. This is the reason that everyone is vaccinated for the flu during autumn, well ahead of the climax of the respiratory virus or cold and flu season, and it is also the reason health officials recommend that travel vaccinations such as the ones required to safeguard against yellow fever, is administered close to four weeks or even more in advance. Vaccination, plus the protection it offers, is more of a succession of steps than a singular episode on a changing landscape.
From the point of view of protection, not very much occurs on the day following the vaccination, which makes the unease regarding the contraction of the virus in close proximity to the time of being vaccinated uncalled-for. Late last year in December and the beginning of this year in January, headlines swarmed the social media platforms highlighting positive test results in politicians and health care workers that had been recently vaccinated. However, situations such as these are absolutely anticipated. The injection basically delivers a parcel, of sorts, of research materials to the white blood cells in the body, which the cells must then study the provided information regarding the virus, a process that is quite multifaceted and can take days or weeks to fully unfold.
Soon after the vaccination has occurred, the immune cells cram for the coronavirus exam. The fast-acting immune cells review the contents of the injection, then transport that data to the B cells, which are immune cells with the responsibility for producing antibodies, and the T cells, which has the ability to destroy virus-infected cells, by locking on to the target or pathogen with a precision that is laser-sharp.
The body fights really hard in making sure that only the strongest B cells and T cells are selected to help with the threat. As many of these cells will compete for the chance against each other, with the less discerning cells being eliminated. The cells must have the ability to realize when they are called on to attack and when they are called on to stand down, and doing this takes some time to get it right.
To put it into perspective, a SARS-CoV-2 infection that happens prior to the body having adequate time to react to the vaccination is as surprising as a student not being able to pass an examination due to the fact that they were unable to complete the reading assignments.
There is really nothing especially unique regarding day fourteen; the levels of antibodies continue to slowly build-up prior to the injection or series of injections are delivered, however, the information that is assimilated from the vaccination markers’ clinical tests reveal that after two weeks, the body has reached a protection threshold. It is noteworthy to state that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines must be injected via two doses, a booster shot in about three to four weeks after the initial; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is said to contain completely different ingredients, only requires a singular injection.
Taking into account the country’s sputtering rollout of the vaccines and the numerous logistical issues that have obstructed delivery, receiving any form of vaccination is worthy of celebration, however, the placid dishonesty that is inserted into the fixation of receiving the injection into the arm, it runs the chance of conflating the moment of the injection with the moment of protection.
Messages that are clearer regarding the vaccine timeline could offer some help. Receiving the last or second injection in a two-dose vaccine schedule, for instance, counts as a completion series. Which unfortunately is not the same thing as what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have in the current guidelines associated with fully vaccinated, what is more, the majority of public health authorities and media houses, including the CDC on its vaccination tracker, are placing persons on the count of the fully vaccinated right after receiving the second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.