After the CDC guidance and the public discourse that resulted, it got me thinking back to a discussion in January among the experts on how we were underselling the vaccines.
There were valid reasons for that of course. There were gaps in the data and there were big unknowns left to be answered. And much of the pandemic mitigation had been politicized, vaccines included, such that failure to note caveats would be exploited.
But I think at this point framing is extremely important. So I was really glad to see the CDC guidance change. These vaccines are arguably some of our most effective vaccines ever.
People have to think about absolute risk more rather than relative risk. It isn't intuitive. Remember the trial efficacy percentages were relative risk reductions versus placebo, not true risk of Covid.
Your true risk of infection depends on the level of circulating virus and the level of population immunity. National test positivity is 4% now. The daily case average is below 40k. Adult vaccination rates are near 60%. As a vaccinated person your relative risk of infection is extremely low, but your absolute risk of infection is even substantially lower than that.
In the extremely rare event you get infected, your chance of being hospitalized is negligible. You're much more likely to have a milder, shorter infection than an unvaccinated person. More centrally as a vaccinated person, your relative risk of transmitting after that very unlikely event of infection is cut by more than half due to reduced viral load and reduced symptoms. Your absolute risk of transmitting this virus after infection is immensely low with vaccination rates and population immunity being so high. This is what motivated the CDC guidance change. This is why you should feel more comfortable going maskless after vaccination.