What Protection Do the Vaccines Provide?
Quick Summary: The vaccines make it much less likely that you’ll get sick, and if you do get sick, they make it much less likely that you’ll end up so sick that you need to go to a hospital or die from it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has some very reliable data on COVID-19, unvaccinated people are 3.6 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 23 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than people who have been vaccinated and boosted. They have also found that unvaccinated people are 7 times more likely to die of COVID-19. However, no vaccine is 100% effective, so even people who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine can still get sick with COVID-19 later (though not from the vaccine itself). The vaccine makes it much, much less likely that you’ll get sick, though.
If you’re vaccinated and end up catching COVID-19 later (this is called a “breakthrough case”), it’s much more likely to be a minor case, because the vaccine helps protect against severe illness, needing to go to the hospital, or dying from COVID-19. A smaller chance of getting sick or severely ill also makes it less likely you’ll get Long COVID-19, which can significantly impact quality of life for a long time. (We’ll talk more about Long COVID-19 later.)