SAYRE — Guthrie officials highlighted Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccines have significantly reduced the number of infections despite the small possibility of reinfections happening after vaccination.
“For those people who are fully vaccinated, we have not had any deaths and we have not had anybody go into the ICU,” said Dr. John Rittenberger, a physician of emergency medicine at Guthrie.
“Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are greater than 90% effective at preventing COVID,” said Rittenberger. “But no medicine or vaccine is 100%.”
He said that a good comparison is the flu vaccine, which has an effectiveness of 50 to 70% depending on the year.
Rittenberger stressed that people should get fully vaccinated to avoid a COVID-19 infection.
“Our local experience with the vaccine is that it is very rare for us to see someone who is fully vaccinated and come in with a positive coronavirus test,” he said.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“The reason for that is your body’s immune response needs that time to kind of build itself up and be ready to fight the virus,” said Rittenberger
Rittenberger said the chance of infection after the first dose is possible, so masking and social distancing should continue until people are fully vaccinated.
He also stressed that it’s important for younger people to get vaccinated just as much as older people.
Last year, his 35-year-old cousin contracted COVID-19 and was in the hospital for 43 days and put on oxygen.
One year later, his cousin is still on oxygen due to effects from the virus.
“Her pulmonologist thinks that she’s going to be on oxygen for the rest of her life,” he said.
Rittenberger also contracted COVID-19, but considers himself lucky compared to others.
“I didn’t get that sick, but I could have transmitted it to somebody who is older or someone who has other medical conditions,” he said. “My perspective is that it is my job and responsibility as a responsible citizen to get vaccinated.”