In our latest edition of “Why is COVID Still Doing That?” we’re seeing states with relatively high vaccination rates currently going through some of the worst COVID surges in the country. Vermont, for example, has a gold star as far having much of its population vaxxed; but they’re experiencing an unfortunate spike, with a 42% surge in cases this past week, per ABC. What gives?
Well, the unvaccinated are still largely to blame — along with waning immunity from vaccines, colder weather, the Delta variant and low levels of herd immunity. Some experts believe that part of that has to do with the fact that the state was so successful at containing the virus at the beginning of the panny that people didn’t develop the type of herd immunity that might be present in communities that were ravaged by the virus. One of the reasons that previous infection matters is because studies have shown that those who had COVID at some point and got vaccinated afterwards have some of the highest chances of evading the crafty Delta variant.
Another major factor in these surges, of course, is that it’s getting colder and people are spending more time unmasked and indoors. And since a lot of us got vaccinated in spring and early summer, we’re collectively hitting that point when our vaccines are starting to lose their power— in fact, a recent study published in the Lancet found that the Pfizer shot lost up to half of its efficacy after six months, per Reuters.
Colorado is another state whose vaccination rates are higher than the national average. But residents are still struggling to contain a new surge. On Thursday, Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order that allows all adults in that state to receive booster shots, per the Washington Post. The move defies CDC guidelines that so far only recommend people who are 65 years and older, live or work in high-risk settings or have underlying conditions to get their boosters. But as winter approaches and holiday travels begin, more states might soon be rushing to approve booster shots for everyone.
Other states with high vaccination rates that are going having surges include New Hampshire, Minnesota and Illinois. We have yet to see whether high vax rates will significantly curb deaths in these states during the winter. But remember: Although this all sounds a little scary, you’re still less likely to catch COVID if you’re vaccinated and if you do, you’re less likely to get seriously ill. If you do qualify for a booster shot in your state, though, now is probably a good time to get it.