New findings we've learned about COVID-19: Part 2

Last week we shared Part 1 of our conversation with Infectious Disease Specialist and Medical Director at AllWays Health Partners, Dr. James Hellinger about new COVID-19 findings. Continue reading for part 2 where Dr. Hellinger talks about COVID-19 testing requirements if you're vaccinated, advice for vaccinated parents living with unvaccinated children, and the importance of vaccinating adolescents. 

Dr James Hellinger

If you're exposed to COVID-19 but you're fully vaccinated and have no symptoms, you don't have to get tested, right?

That's correct. If we use a worst-case scenario, say you're living with somebody who has tested positive, you've had substantial exposure. In the past, without vaccination, you would have come down with the virus. When you're in a small space sharing meals and rooms, it's very contagious in that setting. But, if you've been vaccinated and get it, you are highly protected. But since protection is just less than 100% and you do get a "breakthrough," it's likely to be mild.

Low concentration in your respiratory secretions and breathing makes you less contagious to those around you. So, you can get it, but you shouldn't. So, the only thing to ask yourself is, if you do get it, who might you transmit it to, and what would be the consequences?

For vaccinated parents living with unvaccinated children, does this living arrangement create additional risk, and should they take extra precautions?

Generally, when you look at the infections happening at schools, the adults are more likely to bring it into the schools, not the kids. So vaccinated parents shouldn't worry about taking the virus home to their kids. Still, I'd certainly hope that the kids would be protected as soon as possible when they reach 12—or when the next set of vaccination options are available for younger ages. I've heard that many parents model behavior for the kids, so the kids aren't confused by masking as a gesture of support when they're indoor public settings.

Knowing that younger people aren't typically getting sick from COVID-19, what would you say to those parents that are on the fence right now about vaccinating their 12-17-year-old kids?

To really get rid of COVID-19 in the community and protect immunocompetence—and all the rest of us to an even greater extent—everyone must do their part to get vaccinated. If you look at Lawrence, Massachusetts, 20 percent of their population is under 18 years old. That's a large group and a clear indicator that our progress could suffer if we don't vaccinate across the board as much as possible.

For the latest information, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

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