NJ Top Doc: COVID-19 vaccine isn’t perfect and here’s why some vaccinated people are getting sick and dying too

3 mins read

This week’s passing of General Colin Powell, one of America’s greatest statesmen has raised concerns among Americans about the true effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. Powell was fully vaccinated according to his family, but he had, according to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy a co-morbidity.

Murphy and his top doctor, Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz both agreed this week that not everyone is protected by the COVID-19 vaccine, but most people are.

So far, 36,616 fully vaccinated New Jerseyans have contracted COVID-19, but that represents just .65% of the total population. Of those 36,616, 794 (0.01%) required hospitalization and 215 fully vaccinated New Jerseyeans have died from the virus (0.004%).

When you consider 5,630,794 people who have been vaccinated and the delta variant being the most dominant variant, New Jersey is in a good place. The original COVID-19 strain from 2020 has essentially vanished as have all of the other variants.

So, why are people who are fully vaccinated still getting sick? Lifshitz explains why that’s happening and why you should not be afraid to get vaccinated.

Below is a transcript of the explanation given by Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz:

When you’re vaccinated, several things happen. The thing that people hear about happening and one of the major things is that your body begins to make antibodies that protects you against the virus coming in. In the past, I’ve explained the antibodies as being like a glove covering to try to keep – over the hooks of the virus that’s trying to grab onto you and the vaccine works extremely well by doing that. Almost everyone – again, not everyone, some people can’t generate a good response, but almost everyone out there generates a very good response. They make these antibodies, and the antibodies work well at protecting those virus from invading the cells, but they’re not perfect.

They’re not perfect for a couple of reasons. First off, it is possible to overwhelm that type of defense and to mix my analogies, we’ve also talked about how vaccine is kind of like wearing an umbrella in the rain. If it’s pouring out there, if you’re getting exposed by a virus all over the place, if people who are infected are coughing on you, you can overwhelm your body’s response, and you can become infected.

In addition to that, the vaccines are developed to produce these antibodies. The antibodies for the most part are in your blood system. They’re not for the most part up in your nasal passages and other places where the virus first often comes, so it is possible that the virus can come in, it can take hold, for example, in your nose, can begin to cause either no symptoms or mild symptoms and begin to replicate before your body’s antibodies can get up there and really fight it off.

That’s also why over and over again we talk about how the vaccine is particularly effective at protecting against hospitalization and death, and that’s really what we’re looking to do. If you got a mild cold from this, people would consider that to be a tremendous win, and that can happen because it can take a little while for the body’s immune system to respond and get the antibodies and its response up to that area where it needs to be so you can still become ill from that.

That’s basically why again the vaccine’s not perfect, and of course, that’s an oversimplification on how vaccine breakthrough occurs, and to come back to your question about do these cases and do these deaths and everything else suggest that there’s something wrong with the vaccine and that we shouldn’t get vaccinated. Again, I’m going to say absolutely not.

To me, it’s the opposite. To again try to come up with a quick analogy, imagine that you’re in a dry forest and somebody throws a match into the middle of the forest. What’s going to happen? It’s going to take off. The fire’s going to spread very rapidly all over the place, and you’ll get a huge conflagration in no time at all. Now imagine instead that people are vaccinated, and by vaccinated in my analogy it’s now rained. It’s wet all over the place. Yes, I throw that match out there. I might find a dry spot. I might get some sparks. It might find a couple other places that it could spread to, but it’s not going to spread anywhere near as widely or as quickly or as fast, and it won’t be as serious because you have this protection out there, and the same thing happens with the virus as it’s trying to spread from person to person.

Yes, the vaccines not perfect, and yes, it could spread occasionally from somebody who’s vaccinated to somebody else who’s vaccinated, but it’s very difficult for it to do that, and it’s not going to keep on doing that, and it’s not going to keep on spreading widely, so by getting that wide ring of vaccination, it’s like protecting that forest against that fire. You keep things from totally engulfing the place in flames, and you really make everything much more manageable, and the people who do get sick tend not to get as sick in general.

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