My Patients Ask: Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting seriously sick with COVID-19.

Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects (become what are called Long-Haulers), or even die.

It is not possible to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you have no increased risk of developing severe complications.

Now, just like with other vaccines (influenza, shingles, etc.) a small minority of people will still get COVID after being vaccinated — some from mutant strains of COVID (like the strains from Brazil, the UK, or South Africa. However, the vast majority of these people will only get the mild form disease, will not need to be hospitalized, will not die from the disease, and will not become long-haulers (have prolonged symptoms after recovery).


This blog was accurate as of the day of posting. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus and the COVID vaccine develops, the information above may have changed since it was last updated. While I aim to keep all of my blogs on COVID and the COVID vaccine up to date, please visit online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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4 Responses to My Patients Ask: Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

  1. Sus Schmitt says:

    Why do some people see immune responses from the vaccine and others don’t. Four people I know were mildly sick after the second dose. Three people had no response. Online, I’ve read of at least two people who were fairly sick for a few days. Any reason for the disparity?

  2. I just heard on the news about a handful of people contracting Covid after their two shots. Is that possibly because they stopped being careful?? They might have acted like they had 100% protection when they do not. How do you explain this?

  3. Sus,

    Great question.

    First, let’s look at side effects. The studies on the mRNA vaccines show that most (but not all) get arm soreness from the shot; however, less than 10% of folks have other minor side effects (i.e., muscle aches, low-grade fever, fatigue, etc.) for a day or two. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) seems helpful. Fortunately, the side effects go away quickly; however, they are more likely with the second shot than the first shot. The risk of a severe reaction (i.e., anaphylaxis) is in the 2-4 cases per million and each of these folks has been quickly and successfully treated.

    As to immune response, the mRNA vaccines build a robust immune response (measured by antibody levels to Covid) in 94-95% of folks. Not only do these antibodies appear to prevent severe Covid (requiring hospitalization, ICU admission, ventilator support) and death, but early data tell us that they may reduce the risk of you transmitting the virus asymptomatically to others.

    As to why some get side effects and others do not, I’ve not seen a good explanation for that. However, that is a common phenomena with all vaccines we give.

    Dr. Walt

  4. Susan,

    Good question with a couple of answers. First of all, the mRNA vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing severe disease; however, for about 5% of folks, it is not effective. That’s why “herd immunity” in the entire population will be critical.

    Even for those who develop antibodies to Covid from the vaccine, some can still get asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease. It just won’t become severe.

    Finally, as the virus mutates (think about the Brazillian, UK, and South African variants), the initial vaccine may or may not be effective. We may have to take boosters later for these varients. Time will tell. But, this is very similar to what happens with influenza each year.

    Make sense?

    Dr. Walt

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