Will COVID Vaccines Work Against the Variants?
COVID variants are in the news and causing people to worry about their safety and whether vaccines will protect us.
David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality, answers commonly asked questions:
Are the current COVID vaccines effective against the variants?
Yes, COVID vaccines are showing good effectiveness in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID variants. Variants require a higher number of antibodies produced by our immune systems to fight it off. The COVID vaccine produces antibodies in higher concentrations than any natural immunity we might have by being exposed to COVID in the past. So the vaccine offers you greater protection. If you do get COVID after you’ve been vaccinated, it would likely be a much milder case – like the common cold – rather than a severe illness.
Vaccines teach your body how to develop antibodies so that your immune system can protect you when you are exposed, even to new variants. So it’s important to be vaccinated as soon as you have the chance – especially in light of the new variants.
Why do variants appear?
It’s natural and expected for viruses to mutate or genetically change. For example, influenza has been mutating for decades. That’s why there’s a new flu vaccine that’s developed each year for influenza.
Are variants more dangerous?
In some respects, for example, variants may spread faster or cause more severe infection.
What’s your bottom line advice in the face of COVID variants?
Get the COVID vaccine as soon as you can, as it now is offered in many convenient locations. Approved vaccines are safe and effective for everyone age 6 months and older with boosters available for everyone age 5 and older. Vaccination is making a difference – in our area and across the nation.