COVID Virus and Vaccines — What You Don’t Know May Hurt You

Lisa Johnston
5 min readApr 6, 2021

Before I start on this series sharing Covid and vaccine information that I don’t believe has been adequately communicated by the media, here are some important things to know about me:

–I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I was vaccinated as a child and think all kids should get the standard set of vaccines.

–I’m not anti-science or lacking education. I have earned two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Plus, I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year reading medical and virology research articles about the Covid virus and the vaccines.

–I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t think Bill Gates put microchips in the vaccines to control people.

Now that you have this context, I’ll let the cat out of the bag. I have some concerns about the Covid vaccines and, especially, the lack of complete and accurate information being communicated by the media and our leaders. All we seem to hear is vaccine cheerleading followed by nonstop messaging for people to take it, take it, take it!

Evidence does suggest some benefits from taking the shot. However, these benefits are limited and have not been well explained. I believe that people should have the whole truth and a full understanding of what they are getting if they choose to take the vaccine.

The most vital issue that is not widely understood is the important way this vaccine differs from gold standard vaccines like Measles because a different, lower level of immunity is produced.

There are two types of immunity that vaccines can produce: Sterilizing and Effective.

Sterilizing immunity is the ideal standard. Vaccines that achieve sterilizing immunity stop a virus from entering your system, keep you from having symptoms, and prevent you from being able to spread the virus. Some of our older, traditional vaccines like Measles and Smallpox achieve this high standard. Usually, you receive one or two doses of these in childhood and are then protected throughout your life.

Effective immunity is a much lower level of protection. It helps boost your immune system to reduce your likelihood of symptoms but does not necessarily prevent the virus from getting into your system or keep you from transmitting the virus to others. Seasonal flu shots fall into this category and this is the level of immunity produced by the Covid shot. These shots are also usually time limited. Just recently, for example, Pfizer announced that their Covid shots last “at least 6 months” which struck me as a rather underwhelming duration.

So, this lower bar of effective immunity means that even after two Covid shots you can still get the virus in your system and possibly spread it to other people. This is why there have been news reports of some fully vaccinated folks getting Covid after having both shots. The Covid vaccine only makes it unlikely you will get sick enough to need hospitalization when you get the virus in your system.

Not becoming sick enough to be hospitalized is a certainly good thing but, unfortunately, far too many people are assuming the vaccine does more than this due to the very confusing and misleading media coverage. After hearing “95% effective” repeated again and again, people have developed the impression the Covid shot meets the higher sterilizing immunity bar like the Measles vaccine. It doesn’t even come close and people need to know.

Not only can the vaccine wear off in a number of months but an article summarizing Moderna’s own clinical trial data noted that one-third of the newly vaccinated group got some type of Covid infection, though it was more often with low level symptoms or asymptomatic. So among the study participants all of whom were wearing masks, distancing, and engaging in other public health measures, the level of prevention of any type of infection was around 66%, not 95%. But, then, we have to ask what proportion of the 66% was due to the health measures and how much was only due to the vaccine itself. Sadly, we have no way to tell from these studies.

Because the Covid shot only produces effective immunity and trial data show that 33% of vaccinated folks still get the virus, public health officials are saying those who have been vaccinated must still wear masks, distance, etc. Given this substantial number of infections among those vaccinated, these folks could serve as a conduit for virus transmission.

Many of you have probably heard about the historical case of Typhoid Mary, who was herself asymptomatic but spread Typhoid to a large number of people. Unfortunately, some proportion of Covid vaccinated individuals could become modern day Typhoid Marys if they stop wearing masks because they mistakenly think they are “safe”.

Being vaccinated does not mean you can rip off your mask, do whatever you want and be 95% protected from getting Covid. As I mentioned, vaccine effectiveness trials were done on people who were all wearing masks, distancing, etc. So, everyone needs to remember that we have absolutely no idea what level of protection vaccines would provide if people try to go back to pre-pandemic “normal” without masks and other measures. To know the level of protection under normal conditions (i.e., no masks, distancing, or other measures), we would need to conduct what are called challenge trials, but none of these have been completed to date.

You might ask why all of this hasn’t been explained more clearly in news coverage. I’ve seen several public health officials in interviews essentially say they don’t want to share certain things or share them this directly because they don’t want anyone to question or resist getting the vaccine. So, they just hammer the 95% effective talking point, tell everyone to take it, and imply that anyone with concerns falls into some discredited or uneducated category.

There have also been some very misleading articles published, such as one that claimed “vaccinated people can’t carry or spread Covid”. The sample of individuals in the study discussed was made up largely of healthcare professionals and first responders most of whom wear higher level masks like N95s at their jobs and even then a number of them still got the virus. This made the headline a blatant lie and the CDC Director had to walk back her initial statement that was quoted in the piece.

Ready for more? Read Part 2, Devils and Angels — The Pro-Vaccine Narrative versus Complex Reality.

Throughout this series, I will address other important topics such as determining actual real world effectiveness, various ways asymptomatic infections could lead to significant problems, the possibility that the virus was the product of laboratory gain of function research, the impact of variants, and my thoughts on the best ways forward — so stay tuned!



Lisa Johnston

Ruckus Panelist on KCPT, Opinion Columnist, Political Consultant, Former Candidate for U.S. Senate and Kansas Senate, Former Educator