Conversation with The CDC
August 1, 2021
ME: CDC, should I get poke if I already had Covid?
CDC: “Yes, you should be poked regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.”
ME: Oh, okay, we don’t know how long natural immunity lasts. Got it. So, how long does poke-induced immunity last?
CDC: “There is still a lot we are learning about COVID-19 pokes and CDC is constantly reviewing evidence and updating guidance. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are poked.”
ME: Okay … but wait a second. I thought you said the reason I need the poke was because we don’t know how long my natural immunity lasts, but it seems like you’re saying we ALSO don’t know how long poke immunity lasts either. So, how exactly is the poke immunity better than my natural immunity?
ME: Uh … alright. But, haven’t there been a bunch of studies suggesting that natural immunity could last for years or decades?
NEWYORKTIMES: “Years, maybe even decades, according to a new study.”
ME: Ah. So natural immunity might last longer than poke immunity?
CDC: Possibly. You never know.
ME: Okay. If I get the poke, does that mean I won’t get sick?
BRITAIN: Nope. We are just now entering a seasonal spike and about half of our infections and hospital admissions are poked people.
ME: CDC, is this true? Are there a lot of people in the U.S. catching Covid after getting the poke?
CDC: We stopped tracking breakthrough cases. We accept voluntary reports of breakthroughs but aren’t out there looking for them.
ME: Does that mean that if someone comes in the hospital with Covid, you don’t track them because they’ve been poked? You only track the UN-poked Covid cases?
CDC: That’s right.
ME: Oh, okay. Hmm. Well, if I can still get sick after I get the poke, how is it helping me?
CDC: We never said you wouldn’t get sick. We said it would reduce your chances of serious illness or death.
ME: Oh, sorry. Alright, exactly how much does it reduce my chance of serious illness or death.
CDC: We don’t know “exactly.”
ME: Oh. Then what’s your best estimate for how much risk reduction there is?
CDC: We don’t know, okay? Next question.
ME: Um, if I’m healthy and don’t want the poke, is there any reason I should get it?
CDC: Yes, for the collective.
ME: How does the collective benefit from me getting poked?
CDC: Because you could spread the virus to someone else who might get sick and die.
ME: Can a poked person spread the virus to someone else?
ME: So if I get poked, I could still spread the virus to someone else?
ME: But I thought you just said, the REASON I should get poked was to prevent me spreading the virus? How does that make sense if I can still catch Covid and spread it after getting the poke?
CDC: Never mind that. The other thing is, if you stay unpoked, there’s a chance the virus could possibly mutate into a strain that escapes the pokes protection, putting all poked people at risk.
ME: So the poke stops the virus from mutating?
ME: So it can still mutate in poked people?
ME: This seems confusing. If the poke doesn’t stop mutations, and it doesn’t stop infections, then how does me getting poked help prevent a more deadly strain from evolving to escape the poke?
CDC: You aren’t listening, okay? The bottom line is: as long as you are unpoked, you pose a threat to poked people.
ME: But what KIND of threat??
CDC: The threat that they could get a serious case of Covid and possibly die.
ME: My brain hurts. Didn’t you JUST say that the poke doesn’t keep people from catching Covid, but prevents a serious case or dying? Now it seems like you’re saying poked people can still easily die from Covid even after they got the poke just by running into an unpoked person! Which is it??
CDC: That’s it, we’re hanging up now.
ME: Wait! I just want to make sure I understand all this. So, even if I ALREADY had Covid, I should STILL get poked, because we don’t know how long natural immunity lasts, and we also don’t know how long poke immunity lasts. And I should get the poke to keep a poked person from catching Covid from me, but even if I get the poke, I can give it to the poked person anyways. And, the other poked person can still easily catch a serious case of Covid from me and die. Do I have all that right?
ME: Um, hello? Is anyone there?