Isn’t natural immunity from having COVID-19 better than getting a vaccine?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Because this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence—based on a small sample size of people—seems to suggest that natural immunity may not last very long. Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well it works over time. Experts are trying to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity of COVID-19.

When will we be protected after we get the vaccine?

You will not be immediately protected from COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine. Studies show that it takes about one to two weeks after your last dose for your body to be able to protect itself against illness. Current information suggests it is possible that someone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 may still have a mild or asymptomatic infection or spread the virus to others. So it is important to continue taking precautions. Continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing until it is clear that it is safe to stop. While no vaccine is 100% effective, Pfizer and Moderna have reported that their vaccines are about 95% effective.

Why would a vaccine be needed if we can do other things, like physical distancing and wearing masks, to prevent COVID-19 from spreading?

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available to us. Vaccines are the first step in returning to a more normal life. Still, we need Coloradans to continue to use basic public health guidance, like physical distancing and mask wearing, until a vaccine is widely available and used by Coloradans.

If some members of my household get the vaccine and others don’t, is it safe to return to our normal life?

It is still possible that members of your household could get COVID-19 because they have not been vaccinated. Until the vaccine is widely available and all household members are fully immunized (and have waited the appropriate time after the second dose), you will need to continue to follow critical public health guidance, including: wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least 6 feet physical distance from others not in your household, avoiding large crowds, washing your hands often and staying home when you are sick.

Distributing a COVID-19 vaccine to the entire state of Colorado will take time. Stay the course until it is your turn for a vaccine.

Can I visit older, at-risk family members once they've been vaccinated but before I have gotten a vaccine?

To be as safe as possible, until the vaccine is widely available and both parties are fully immunized, we all need to continue to follow critical public health guidance. Prevention methods still include: wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least 6 feet physical distance from others not in our household, avoiding large crowds, washing our hands often, and staying home when we are sick.

Can family members of high-risk individuals get vaccinated early, too?

Once a vaccine is available, we expect it will take several months until everyone can access it because of limited availability. To save lives, we need to first prioritize health care providers and Coloradans who are most at risk for getting severely sick or even dying.

What is community immunity or herd immunity? How many people need to get vaccinated to develop community immunity from COVID-19?

Community immunity means that enough people have developed immunity to a disease (either naturally or through vaccination) that there is no longer a risk of community transmission or outbreaks. Until we better understand COVID-19 immunity,  we won’t know the percent of people needed for community immunity (sometimes called herd immunity).

Will we see a dramatic reduction in the number of cases in Colorado soon after a vaccine becomes available?

We will be closely monitoring the vaccine’s effect on the number of new COVID-19 cases in Colorado.  Because the initial supply of vaccine is expected to be limited, we still need all Coloradans to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus. Wear a mask, keep 6 feet of distance from others who don’t live with you, avoid gatherings, wash your hands often, and stay home when you are sick.