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What are the limitations of the COVID-19 vaccine? Experts weigh in

COVID Vaccine
Posted at 6:29 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 20:29:11-04

BILLINGS- This week marks a milestone for Montana, with the largest supply of COVID-19 vaccines so far headed for vaccination clinics.

A flood of vaccine supply is set to come to all 50 states, as President Joe Biden announced Tuesday he’s shaving two weeks off his May 1 deadline to get all eligible adults in the United States vaccinated.

On Tuesday, officials reported 23 percent of Yellowstone County residents were fully vaccinated, and about 36 percent have had a least one shot.

But Yellowstone County appears to be slow showing up to the game, as RiverStone Health officials say there’s a bit of waning over the COVID-19 vaccine excitement.

Some wonder what limitations exist once the vaccine is administered, especially after Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte tested positive for the virus four days after getting his first dose of the vaccine.

“I think that is part of the confusion,” Dr. Megan Littlefield with Riverstone Health said Tuesday.

“If you think that as soon as you get the shot that you're now protected, it could take weeks for its effectiveness to take hold, and it really takes two weeks for your body to fully mount an adequate response," she said.

Researchers say all three of the vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson, need enough time to provide protection.

People should still take precautions like masking up, social distancing, and handwashing until they’re fully immunized, according to health officials.

But Littlefield offers a caution:

“So, there’s always are going to be some breakthrough cases after someone has been fully vaccinated,” she said.

But here’s why people should still opt to get vaccinated, according to Littlefield.

“The most important thing is that what these vaccines do, is they decrease your risk by a lot of getting infected,” she said. “And they decrease the severity of the disease if you do contract the virus after you have been immunized.”

And on top of that, no vaccine is 100% effective. So, there’s one major misconception about vaccines in general to address.

“I just want to dispel that myth. That if you get the COVID vaccine, it is not going to cause you to get COVID because it is not the actual virus that you're getting exposed to,” said Littlefield.

Some research indicates that it's rare but possible for some people to still get a positive test even after having both doses.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, meaning it's possible a person could be infected.