The answer is it’s certainly possible. There is always the chance after any type of vaccination that you can get the virus or disease you hope to be protected against. That is why we hear the vaccines are 95% or 75% effective. It’s because with any vaccination, there are certain people whose immune systems don’t respond strongly enough to fight off the virus. So it’s those 5-25% of people in the clinical trials that account for the the lack of 100% effectiveness we hope for.
This occurs for any vaccination, not just COVID. Often is the U.S., the annual Fall flu vaccination does not cover the viruses for which it was manufactured. That’s because viruses change as they move from person-to-person, creating “variants” of the original virus. Often we hear that the flu vaccine was “not as effective” during a given year because the viruses it was designed to fight are no longer the ones causing illness. They’ve changed in a short period of time.
With COVID, there have been people who’ve gotten the virus more than 2 weeks after their final shot. There are several reasons for this. Everybody has their own individual immune response to the vaccine. Some people have a strong response with many antibodies to protect against the virus and get great protection. Others have weaker responses or pre-existing illnesses that have weakened their immune systems, so can’t respond as well.
Some who’ve received the vaccine have been exposed to people who have COVID before their immune systems have kicked into full gear after the shots. People eager to be “normal” again might abandon the masks early, thinking they’re okay to go without them. If vaccinated people are hanging out with unvaccinated people in a community where the virus is rampant, even the strongest immune systems can’t fight it off. This is also where vaccinated people can become asymptomatic carriers. Their immune systems are strong enough to fight off the worst case of COVID, but not knock it right out. So that person quietly carries the virus.
Variants are another reason for COVID infections after vaccination. The 3 vaccines currently used in the U.S. were made to handle the original COVID virus. Since then the virus has mutated into a few different variants, most of which are stronger and more contagious than the original one. As time goes on, we will see more COVID infections after vaccination because our immune systems won’t be as protected from these variants. This is an expected occurrence with any vaccination. It is likely we might see “booster” vaccinations down the road as the virus continues to mutate.
Getting a vaccine doesn’t mean you’re immune to COVID. You just have a better chance to avoid getting it. And the likelihood of severe illness or death is very low. The more people who get vaccinated, the less likely people who don’t get the shots or have a weak response to the shots will be protected.
So if you’re inclined, get the shots, mask up, space 6 feet from strangers, and continue to wash your hands.