Will COVID Vaccine Cover Variants? Dr. Mallika Answers Your Coronavirus Questions

Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering viewer questions about the coronavirus vaccines.

Video Transcript

- WBZ is the only local TV station with a doctor on staff, and many of you are reaching out to Dr. Mallika Marshall with your coronavirus questions. Dr. Mallika joins me now. Doctor, let's get to our very first question. It is from Dana, who writes, "the Moderna vaccine is 95% effective. Does this mean, even fully vaccinated, we could have a 5% chance of getting the virus?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: That's such a great question. Because I think it is very confusing. No, it does not mean that you have a 5% chance of getting COVID-19 if you're fully vaccinated. What it means is if you're vaccinated, you are 95% less likely to get COVID-19 as someone who's not vaccinated. And in the Moderna and Pfizer trials, they defined having COVID-19 as having a positive test and at least one symptom.

- Well, Dana is asking another question, Doctor. She has a follow-up. "My husband and I received the Moderna vaccine. Will this vaccine cover the UK and Brazilian variants?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: So data suggests that the vaccine actually does a pretty good job of covering the UK variant. Maybe not as good against the Brazilian and the South African variants. But that's why Moderna, the company, is working on a booster shot that would address those strains, as well as any other emerging strains down the road.

- Well, we have another question about vaccines from Amy in Marlborough, Doctor. She wonders, "can fully vaccinated people carry the virus even if they don't catch it, and unwittingly infect unvaccinated people or members of the family?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: You know, we've been wondering this for a long time. And we know that the vaccines do a really good job at preventing COVID-19, the disease. But the question was, could they also prevent you from passing the virus on to someone else? Actually, there was just a study that came out of Israel suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine can do just that. We need more data. We are very hopeful that all of the vaccines will be able to do that. But in the meantime, it's still important for fully vaccinated people to wear their masks and socially distance from people who are unvaccinated, especially if they're at higher risk of COVID-19.

- And our last question, Doctor, comes from Beverly. Big-hearted Beverly, who wants to know, "can a fully vaccinated 82-year-old registered nurse work in a COVID vaccine clinic?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: I love that an 82-year-old registered nurse wants to work in a COVID vaccine clinic. And I would say, you know, you're fully vaccinated, so your chances of getting COVID-19 are much, much lower. But I think it really depends on the 82-year-old. If you're healthy, then I think you should consider it. If you have other conditions that put you at high risk for COVID-19, then maybe not. So in this case, I would talk about it with your doctor and find out what they think.

- Regardless, though, Beverly, great question. And Doctor, as always, thank you so much. Dr. Mallika offers her best advice, but as always, consult your personal doctor before you make any decisions about your health. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, there are three ways you can reach her. Email Dr. Mallika at CBS.com, or on Twitter @mallikamarshall, or you can Facebook message her. Dr. Mallika Marshall.