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Vaccination does more than help prevent infection among the vaccinated — it reduces the chances of COVID-19 spread among the general public.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who has 840,000 followers on Facebook, shared an image on Facebook that claims the general public does not benefit from people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The image is of a tweet from conservative radio talk show host Joe "Pags" Paglilarulo that said, in part:
"Your health choices are your business. There is no added safety to the public if you're vaccinated. Period."
Miller wrote, "Right on Joe Pags! You are 100% right!" in his post, which was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The claim is wrong. A person who is vaccinated does provide additional safety to the public. First and foremost, a person who gets vaccinated reduces the chances they will get or spread the disease.
Vaccination has helped eradicate or substantially contain the spread of such communicable diseases such as smallpox, polio, measles and mumps.
"Vaccination reduces one's risk of getting sick in the first place — one cannot transmit if one is not infected," said Dr. David Dowdy, an epidemiology and international health professor at Johns Hopkins University. "It is generally accepted that vaccination reduces the risk of transmission to others. This is the impetus behind vaccination campaigns."
With COVID-19 vaccines in particular, the vaccines have been shown to reduce a person’s chances of both contracting and spreading the infection and of becoming seriously ill from the disease if they get a breakthrough infection.
Unvaccinated people are more likely than the vaccinated to get COVID-19 and are more likely to spread it, according to a study led by the University of Oxford and one in China, in addition to being much more likely to become seriously ill or die. Another study in the Netherlands found that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant are 63% less likely to infect people who are unvaccinated.
People who are vaccinated have shorter durations of infectiousness with COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated, according to a study led by a Harvard researcher.
The public-health benefit is clear, said Kent State University public health professor Tara Smith.
"One, vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract an infection if exposed to virus," Smith said. "Two, if vaccinated individuals do have a breakthrough infection, they are less likely to spread the virus to others than unvaccinated individuals. Three, if vaccinated with a breakthrough infection, they are less likely to have a serious outcome and need hospitalization, which protects the community by keeping those beds free for other illnesses and emergencies."
The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines to people ages 5 and older as a safe and effective means of protection from serious short- and long-term complications and death: "Getting everyone ages 5 years and older vaccinated can protect families and communities, including friends and family who are not eligible for vaccination and people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19."
Epidemiologist Joshua Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said "there is pretty robust evidence that fully vaccinated people who are infected with SARS-Cov-2 can and do transmit to others at times, but the risk of that ongoing transmission is lower than if they had never been vaccinated. This means there is a benefit to vaccination that extends beyond just protection of the individual in the form of reduced transmission risk to household members, co-workers and community members."
We rate the claim that "there is no added safety to the public if you're vaccinated" Pants on Fire!
Facebook, post, Nov. 6, 2021
Twitter, tweet, Nov. 6, 2021
USA Today, "Fact check: COVID-19 vaccine protects both the person vaccinated and those around them," Aug. 16, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine," Nov. 5, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing Hospitalization Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — COVID-NET, 13 States, February–April 2021," Aug. 6, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 Information for Specific Groups of People," April 20, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Science Brief: COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccination," Sept. 15, 2021
PolitiFact, "No lie: COVID-19 is largely spread by unvaccinated people," Nov. 8, 2021
Email, Kent State University public health professor Tara Smith, Nov. 11, 2021
PolitiFact, "COVID-19 vaccines work, even if they aren’t 100% effective," Sept. 21, 2021
New England Journal of Medicine, "Prevention and Attenuation of Covid-19 with the BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 Vaccines," July 22, 2021
New England Journal of Medicine, "Effect of Vaccination on Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in England," Aug. 19, 2021
New Scientist, "How much less likely are you to spread covid-19 if you're vaccinated?", Oct. 23, 2021
Annals of Internal Medicine, "SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Effectiveness in a High-Risk National Population in a Real-World Setting," October 2021
PolitiFact, "What do we really know about COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness?", Oct. 29, 2021
MedRxiv, "Viral dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 variants in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals," Aug. 25, 2021
Email, Dr. David Dowdy, epidemiology and international health professor at Johns Hopkins University, Nov. 10, 2021
PolitiFact, "Key threat to unvaccinated people is other unvaccinated people," Oct. 27, 2021
PolitiFact, "Evidence shows that COVID-19 variants are largely spread among unvaccinated people," Aug. 25, 2021
Email, epidemiologist Joshua Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Nov. 11, 2021
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