In either of these scenarios, it’s extremely likely that you will eventually be infected. Adults get the flu about once every five years. Many times they are unaware, because the infection is asymptomatic. By the time children are roughly three years old, 65% will have been infected with coronavirus 229E. It’s reasonable to predict that some years down the road, SARS-CoV-2 will be just as, if not more, prevalent. Even the vaccinated will likely be infected at some point, and that’s okay.
There was some hope that the incredibly effective vaccines we have, particularly BioNTech/Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA shots, would grant sterilizing immunity, preventing infection altogether. And studies suggest that they do, surprisingly well. But it seems that this form of immunity wanes over time and lessens versus new variants, particularly the Delta variety that’s been all over the news of late. The good news is that the vaccines remain extremely protective against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. If and when booster shots are available, we’ll be able to refresh our immunity.
The knowledge that a SARS-CoV-2 infection is essentially inevitable might be, for some, panic-inducing, perhaps prompting a desire to live a bubbled life. It shouldn’t. That’s because we have the tools to be free from both fear and, for the vast majority, harm: America’s remarkable arsenal of safe and effective vaccines. Again, even if the vaccines don’t prevent infection, that’s okay! As of July 26th, less than 0.004% of fully vaccinated people experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization and less than 0.001% died from the disease, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.