In the fight to defeat COVID-19, we need to redefine the term “fully vaccinated.” It has been commonly used to denote the number of people or the percentage of the population who have received at least two doses of the mRNA vaccines or the one shot of Johnson & Johnson. But it is quickly becoming misleading and potentially harmful. As we know, the vaccines’ effectiveness wanes after several months and boosters are recommended for everyone 18 years of age and over.

So, the current reported 71.3 percent vaccination rate for the state of Maine does not provide a realistic measure of vaccine protectiveness and may actually be counterproductive, as it implies a false sense of security. In fact, it is possible that our overall level of protection is actually decreasing as the rate for boosters and first shots are outpaced by the declining effectiveness of the vaccines.

A more accurate measure of the current level of protection that recognizes the diminished effectiveness of the vaccines would provide a more accurate tool to assess our current status. Our infectious-disease experts need to develop a more useful measure that accounts for vaccination effectiveness in order to inform and guide the actions of not only individuals but our elected leaders as well.

For instance, would masking be a requirement inside public buildings if we recognized the community’s true antibody protection rate? Yes, I know it may be difficult to calculate and hard to assemble the data, but isn’t that what we expect from our medical professionals and elected leaders?

William Weber

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