What are the implications of not getting vaccinated against covid-19?

Covid-19 vaccination begins in the US 1:21

(CNN Spanish) – As vaccination against covid-19 advances in the world, many people have said that they would not get the vaccine.

Vaccination has its challenges and obstacles, especially in developing countries.

And while the covid-19 vaccine is good news for the scientific community and for many it is the beginning of the end of the pandemic, the development of the vaccine in just eleven months – compared to vaccine research that has lasted years – has generated great skepticism. So much so that many have said that they would not be vaccinated. At least not for now, and the consequences can be devastating, according to experts.

Diana Carolina, a Memorial Health System physician, receives the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech in Miramar, Florida, on December 14, 2020. (Credit: CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images)

“The implications of not getting vaccinated are relatively simple: you can get very severe COVID and you can die,” Dr. Joseph Varón, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, told CNN en Español. «I believe that it is very important that people understand that one should be vaccinated. You need to have that vaccine.

Not getting the vaccine could leave those more likely to contract a much more violent coronavirus disease than those who do, according to Dr. Varón.

“In other words, if the disease starts to advance, people who are vaccinated will get ahead. People who are not (vaccinated) will have the infection and the worst thing is that they can infect another. So from the public health point of view, you become a problem, “said Varón, adding that those who have pre-existing conditions can have much more serious consequences such as death, just as we see today.

California begins vaccination against covid-19 4:24

The protection of the vaccine against covid-19

If a person chooses not to be vaccinated, the implications may be broader, as not only will they not get protection against COVID-19, but it could potentially make it difficult to obtain herd immunity and make vulnerable groups at high risk who may not be able receive the vaccine.

“That moment of herd immunity is delayed because the virus exists by being able to jump from one person to another and if people already have antibodies, then that represents a way to block the transmission of the virus,” Dr. José told CNN Torradas, an emergency physician and spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, based in Pennsylvania, United States.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert, said he expects a large portion of the population to be vaccinated by the summer of 2021 or fall.

“My hope and my projection is that if we get people to get vaccinated en masse so that we get that large percentage of the population, as we get closer to autumn, we can have real comfort that people are in school, for sure at school, whether it’s kindergarten through grade 12, or at university, ”added Fauci.

How to achieve a herd immunity with the vaccine?

Experts agree that applying the vaccine collectively can contain the pandemic. According to an NPR / PBS Newshour / Marist College survey, 32% of those surveyed would not get the vaccine, while 61% said they would (in September, 49% said they would).

It is estimated that a COVID-19 vaccine will need to be accepted by at least 55% of the population to provide immunity to the community, according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and some scientists anticipate that even higher numbers will be needed. .

For Torradas, not getting vaccinated would continue the situation like the one we live in the present, in which more than 132 million people have been infected with coronavirus and 2.8 million people have died since the start of the pandemic: more than 556,000 of them have died in the US.

“In terms of those who are not vaccinated, it is not that they are more of a danger than they can be right now,” Torradas said. «It is understanding that by not getting vaccinated if you don’t have antibodies, you can become infected and that does not mean that you cannot infect people who have been vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated have at least a higher chance of not having severe complications.

The problem of misinformation

The anti-vaccine movement has been gaining traction in recent years, with some parents refusing to vaccinate their children against diseases that were once eradicated, such as polio and measles.

“There is a general sentiment against science, against authority and against vaccines among some people in this country, an alarmingly large percentage of people, relatively speaking,” Dr. Fauci told CNN in recent months.

Safety, effects and other things you should know about vaccines against covid-19

Safety, effects and other things you should know about vaccines against covid-19

And that misinformation can be deadly in terms of public health amid a devastating pandemic that has left millions infected.

“Unfortunately, an environment of trust and adequate information has not been created due to all the erroneous and misinformed communications that the government of this country has given. And that causes that reluctance, “Dr. Flor Muñoz, a vaccine expert and researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN en Español.

According to Muñoz, the misinformation about vaccines is unfortunate. The expert urges people to take advantage of the “best option we have at the moment”, which are vaccines to help eradicate the lethality of this pandemic.

«It has been the best option in the history of mankind. The fact of having vaccines that eliminate infections that may be like these. It is what has dragged humanity from many previous plagues and many previous epidemics », added Muñoz.

Experts continue to insist that vaccination, which is not yet massive and only available to certain groups, is not the only response to the pandemic. We must continue with hand washing, physical distancing and the use of face masks to stop the spread of the virus.

Editor’s note: This text was initially published in December 2020.

– With information from Carolina Melo of CNN en Español and Maggie Fox, Katie Hunt, Harry Enten and Elizabeth Cohen of CNN.