Although people vaccinated against COVID-19 are protected against possible complications and even death after infection, this only applies to those who are fully vaccinated or have received the booster dose 5 months after the second dose, experts from the Ministry of Health (Minsa)
said on Tuesday.
"Vaccines reduce the risk of complications by up to 10 times and death by up to 20 times, approximately. However, this is not zero risk. I am vaccinated with these doses, but I can get infected tomorrow, so I must keep up with prevention measures," said Cesar Munayco, Executive Director of Public Health Surveillance at the National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention, and Disease Control (CDC)
run by Minsa.
In an interview with Andina news agency, he said that many senior citizens are seen in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) right now, and this should be considered an alert about the importance of having the full course of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Usually, most hospitalized people are senior citizens who are unvaccinated or received only one dose. In addition, there is a significant number of vaccinated people who are becoming infected, and this is due to what is known as immune senescence," Munayco explained.
The expert explained that the immune system deteriorates as the body ages; therefore, a person aged 70-80 does not have the same immune response to vaccines as a person between 20 and 30 years old. This can increase the risk of infection and is known as immune senescence.
"This is why the third dose (or booster dose
) is so important. Senior citizens who are already eligible for the third dose should get vaccinated soon. On the other hand, the general population should be responsible because they could infect their relatives," the executive director remarked.
The other group of people vulnerable to COVID-19 infection or reinfection are children and people with a chronic, neurological or heart disease.
"These are very fragile people. Families and their environments must be very responsible because we have noticed that parties, end-of-year meetings, and gift exchange events are taking place, so this can pose a risk of infection," Munayco stated.
"Many people become overconfident once they are vaccinated or because they have no symptoms, and that's how some outbreaks have occurred," he added.