Study finds COVID-19 95 percent lower in vaccinated Philadelphia school employees

Study finds COVID-19 95 percent lower in vaccinated Philadelphia school employees
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A study published Friday found the portion of positive COVID-19 tests among vaccinated school employees in Philadelphia was 95 percent lower than unvaccinated workers, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reported that weekly tests among School District of Philadelphia employees working in-person earlier this year returned 0.09 percent positive results among those vaccinated with two doses. 

Comparatively, 1.21 percent of workers who had one dose and 1.76 percent of employees who had zero shots tested positive for COVID-19, showing the effectiveness of the vaccine. 

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The research included the mandatory screening tests for employees during the first five weeks of in-person work. In total, 0.7 percent of the 34,048 COVID-19 tests returned positive results among about 12,300 employees between March 21 and April 23.  

“Vaccination of school staff members has been highlighted as an important strategy to maximize the safety of in-person education,” the MMWR reads. “These findings reinforce the importance of promoting COVID-19 vaccination among school staff members before commencement of the 2021-22 school year.”

At the time of the study, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had only authorized the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines, meaning the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not given out in the period. 

Employees of the Philadelphia school district were all given the opportunity to get vaccinated through a program that lasted from Feb. 23 to April 3. 

The researchers said they did not consider during testing how long it had been since employees got their shots, noting the vaccine may not have been fully protecting the person at the time of testing. 

The CDC considers a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot of the mRNA vaccines or the only shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The research comes as the back-to-school season is approaching and as communities aim to start this school year with full-time in-person learning after the pandemic disrupted traditional education. 

While all adults are authorized to get the vaccine, only children older than 12 years old are eligible. It’s unclear when the vaccine will become available for the younger population that includes school-aged children.