Ask a Scientist: Should I consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19?


Should I consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19?

The answer to that question is overwhelmingly YES.

By getting vaccinated, you are helping to protect yourself and likely those around you from the virus that causes COVID-19.

But also, getting majority of people vaccinated is our best shot at beating this pandemic and going back to more normal life.

So let's start with how these vaccines help protect YOU from the virus.

Vaccines help your body develop immunity against a specific pathogen, like a virus or some bacteria.

It's like the vaccine is doing the prep work to train your immune system to deal with the real virus if you get exposed to it later on.

The immunity you develop following vaccination is extremely specific, and there is no food you can eat, no product you can buy, and no exercise you can do to achieve the same effect.

Decades of research in the areas of infectious disease and the body's immune response have made this very clear: Only a vaccine works like a vaccine.

I say that because being fit or otherwise in good health is not the same as equipping your immune system to fight a specific virus.

That's why, even if you're young or feel that you are in a low-risk group, getting vaccinated is still the best protection you can give yourself.

Now, let's also talk about how getting vaccinated could help protect those around you.

It's worth noting that a very small percentage of people are not good candidates for vaccination, mostly due to an allergy to a specific component of the vaccine or some health conditions. These are things that you can talk to your health care provider about if you have concerns.

There are others who simply might not be able to produce a robust immune response after receiving the vaccine.

This is where the concept of herd immunity becomes important.

To be clear, studies are ongoing and there is a lot of discussion taking place right now about how much vaccination coverage we'll need against COVID-19 to achieve what's known as a herd immunity threshold.

These studies and discussions will take into account factors like variants of concern, so you may even see some of the projections change over time.

But overall, the thing to remember is that vaccinating as many Canadians as possible will give us the best shot at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

In summary:

Special thanks to

Dr. Charu Kaushic

Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity
Full Professor, Department of Medicine, McMaster University
Chair, Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GLOPID-R)

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