COMMENTARY: Vaccinated and still catching COVID?

Dr. Sam Christian

My patients ask, is the shot a dangerous waste of time because some vaccinated people still catch the virus?

Very good and very fair question! You will find it more than worthwhile understanding the logical explanation. Dominica is blessed with few cases and no deaths. The majority of churches, businesses, governmental and non-governmental institutions have done an outstanding job. Overseas, even though the number of hospitalizations and deaths continue to decrease sharply in vaccinated countries such as Israel, Dubai and Britain, reports of ‘breakthrough cases’ are quite disturbing.

The PELTZMAN EFFECT explains why a number of people have become infected with Covid after being vaccinated. What’s that, you ask?

Sam Peltzman taught microeconomics at Chicago in 1988. The Peltzman Effect is a theory which states that people are people more careful when they sense greater risk. They are less careful if they feel more protected.  It’s human behavior.

Compulsory use of seatbelts resulted in less deaths, but more accidents. Racetrack drivers flirt with spectacular crashes because they are so exquisitely strapped, air-bagged and protected in steel cages. Safety perception increases risk appetite.

One doctor lamented: “I treated thousands of patients with COVID-19 for the last several months. But I was not positive. But after taking the vaccination, I became positive with the virus.”

Here are the scientific facts as we know them today:

  1. The immunity against Covid 19 doesn’t build immediately after the first dose or even immediately after the second. Full-fledged immunity takes a few weeks after the second dose.
  1. Immunity is not absolute. Even after complete vaccination, a person can still get infected. However, their chance of dying or getting a severe infection requiring hospitalisation will be SUBSTANTIALLY LESS.
  1. Not all vaccines work to the same extent. The efficacy varies.
  1. Not all vaccines are effective against all the variants. A lot of vaccines are less effective against B1.351 (the South African variant), for example.

This means that vaccines are giving a sense of security which leads to increasingly risky behaviour.

But the problem is that while vaccines neither give immediate protection or full protection (against infection as against death), the SENSE OF SECURITY unfortunately starts much earlier, even before the actual injection. A year ago, the whole world was filled with doom and gloom. We were just waiting for the shoe to drop.

Regardless of controversies of how the virus started, science brought hope. People are no longer fearing death round the corner, they are itching to return to normal. Now that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the Peltzman effect comes into play. People wear masks with less caution, do not maintain distance as soon as they reach vaccination centres. Mask usage, social distancing and hand sanitisation have become progressively less. While this is attributed mainly to PANDEMIC FATIGUE, the Peltzman effect cannot be ignored.

While this behaviour is dangerous for the general public, this can be disastrous for health care workers who directly deal with Covid 19 patients. Having survived the first couple waves they are now letting down their guard. The Peltzman effect is also evident in the drastic decline in the usage of PPE (personal protection equipment) among frontline workers. The result: more are getting infected thereby impairing delivery of health care services especially in Brazil.

It is important to vaccinate the majority of the people at risk. Some areas have done better than others. Unfortunately, overall, people are slacking. They are losing sight of the grave consequences right next door in sister Caribbean islands. Balanced enforcement of official protocols is important. That is why it is so critical to be aware of the Peltzman effect. LET’S BE MORE CAREFUL UNTIL THE EFFECT OF OUR ENVIABLE VACCINATION PROGRAM TAKES US CLOSE TO HERD IMMUNITY.

I am fully vaccinated. I encourage all my patients to do so as well. Stay safe and hang in there with the protocols as your patriotic duty. Be ready to answer the tough questions. Spread awareness and keep on saving lives.

(Information in this article is researched from a social media post of an unknown physician, whom I wish to credit).


Dr. Sam Christian

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  1. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 13, 2021

    Doc, I like to read, I was once called a bookworm while attending college; and so I read interesting comments and written articles such as yours more than once.

    To be honest with you; recognizing you have a medical degree, I have yet to understand your rhetoric in regards to the Peltzman Effect, since that theory is simple as in the following quote.

    “The Peltzman Effect is a theory which states that people are more likely to engage in risky behavior when security measures have been mandated. The Peltzman Effect is named for Sam Peltzman’s postulation about mandating the use of seatbelts in automobiles.”
    I don’t see what that in the quote have to do with a vaccine and people not wanting to accept it; I mean living in Dominica under all circumstances is high risks anyway!

    In Dominica people die from the simplest treatable diseases, and even everyday accidental injuries.

  2. Jayson
    April 9, 2021

    It doesn’t STOP you from getting Covid nor does it STOP you from SPREADING it? A clear contradiction to what a vaccine is specifically designed to do?!!

    Maybe it’s because it isn’t a vaccine at all…

  3. NatZar
    April 8, 2021

    246 vaccinated Michigan residents diagnosed with COVID, 3 dead, State Health Dept. confirms

  4. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 7, 2021

    Doc, you can write more than one  book explaining to people it will boil down to one simple idea which is to educate Dominicans to the fact that because one is vaccinated does not mean the person becomes immune to the diseases and cannot get infected!

    In the first place Dominicans need to understand the vaccine is not a cure nor a prevention; nevertheless; if one contracts the virus after vaccination; they have a chance of surviving; they may not die; and hospitalization may not be necessary.

    After vaccination people are advised to continue to ware a mask, and maintain social distancing; until a medical cure is found; there are treatments which seem to work thus far, until that is know in Dominica the protocol issued by the WHO and the American CDC must be followed.

    Finally doc this continue boast about how well Dominica did to curtail the spread of the virus is simply nonsense; the population of Dominica is small, few people travels to Dominica; that’s the reason:

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      April 7, 2021

      Doc; in America five (555,000) hundred fifty-five thousand people died from the virus, I have a residence in the middle of Los Angeles, of all the people in Los Angeles I know personally only two died; and one of them was Antiguan born.

      Note Doc: the population of the city of Los Angeles is 3.99 Million; almost four million people, where as the entire population of California is 39.56 million people.

      I have another residence in a suburb  outside of Los Angeles with a population of 92, 595 people, to date not  a single person have died in that city from the virus!

      There are less than fifty thousand people residence in Dominica, so it appears the smaller the population it’s the lessor cases one finds; so we in Dominica may have escape the fury of death by COVID-19 due to our small population; and not anything particular the medical establishment, or government has done!

  5. Gary
    April 7, 2021

    To suggest that The PELTZMAN EFFECT explains why a number of people have become infected with Covid after being vaccinated is a ludicrous use of logic. Why is the onus on the behaviour of the person taking the vaccine, and not on the vaccine efficacy. You made a statement you need sufficient data and references to support your claim, mere logic is not enough. The so-called scientific facts as we know them today labelled 1-4 is what I call zombie science, useful propaganda to shape mass opinion.

  6. Ma Senjo
    April 6, 2021

    What’s your point, have you come to the realization that you are living in the Commonwealth of DOMINICA? Please use your time wisely. Your hearsay scare tactics about Israel, England and Dubai is irrelevant to our way of life in Dominica.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10
  7. hmm
    April 6, 2021

    Is this the same effect that the WHO was referring to when they were telling people that they shouldn’t be wearing masks in march last year? One famous “doctor” gave a similar reasoning in reference to mask usage at the beginning of the pandemic back when Taiwan was sounding the alarm about the transmisibility of the virus while the WHO was trying their best to make China look good instead of giving accurate information that could have saved thousands of lives.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  8. LifeandDeath
    April 6, 2021

    “science brought hope. People are no longer fearing death round the corner, they are itching to return to normal. Now that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the Peltzman effect comes into play”
    Hope from what? Sam, it is utter madness to continue to purport that glaring scientific mistruth, that a Corona Virus infection is true and certain death. There is no boogeyman waiting to get you if you catch Corona virus, and certainly the tunnel has been created from flawed WHO and CDC policies.
    I was hoping for something truly substantial from this reading. It still has not explained why vaccines are necessary for a Disease with such a high natural recovery rate.
    Most persons who catch this disease don’t get tested or even treated, they are out there in the community going about their daily lives, just being Asymptomatic. So if a vaccine is simply to make us all Asymptomatic, why are they pushing it on everyone? FYI, most ppl now fear the vaccine, not death from this disease.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4
  9. somtimes
    April 6, 2021

    My dear Mr Dr Sam Christian repent an help save you and your family soul because what when gates will lead you’ll to ever lasting condemnation. Revelation chapter 14:7-13.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7
  10. Skerro
    April 6, 2021

    That is so true the same thing I do protecting myself I’m going right along with it cause I’m not taking no vaccine all I see is putting chip in my body to check my where about people get smart

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9
  11. Skerro
    April 6, 2021

    That’s is so true

  12. click here
    April 6, 2021

    This vaccine scene is a joke. Now the excuse is it doesnt start to work immediately. We have to take second and third doses. Meanwhile the virus keeps mutating. Masks are still required. COVID-19 Virus strains can still spread EVEN IF you have been vaccinated. International donors giving millions and millions of dollars for nations to agree to push their vaccines. Dominica has had NO deaths, less that 30 active cases at a time. But yet they on this drive, with the promise of “things can only get bck to normal” if you and your children take the vaccine. International countries have huge shortages of shots, not enough for their own people, but Dominica can just get vaccine like that, with even wnough to share with Antigua FOR FREE. Something not right.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3
    • lmckoy
      April 8, 2021

      Looks like your man Skerro has big time contacts in high places!

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