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VERIFY: Are vaccinated and unvaccinated people who catch COVID-19 equally contagious?

Early studies show both groups have similar levels of the virus. But, vaccinated are not contagious for as long.

WASHINGTON — As we see more breakthrough infections, the question becomes: Are vaccinated people just as contagious as unvaccinated people?

Maybe you’ve seen or heard the claim circulating online about the contagiousness of people who catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated.

Basically, the claim is vaccinated and unvaccinated people who get COVID-19 are equally contagious. We went to the experts to find out.

THE QUESTION:

Are vaccinated and unvaccinated people who get COVID-19 equally contagious?

THE SOURCES:

THE ANSWER:

Technically, people who are vaccinated are less contagious overall.

WHAT WE FOUND:

We obtained two studies from the CDC. Both looked at vaccinated and unvaccinated infections from COVID-19. Both studies found that the level of virus in vaccinated and unvaccinated people appears to be similar.

However, that doesn’t simply explain contagiousness.

“Vaccinated people and unvaccinated people have comparable levels of virus in their throats so they can both spread,” Dr. Schaffner said.  “One of the good things about being vaccinated is this duration of shedding of the virus is shorter if you're vaccinated.”

This means that people who are vaccinated spread the virus for a shorter period.

There are still months of information to be studied on the virus. However, according to our experts because of the shortness of a vaccinated person’s ability to spread the virus, vaccinated people are less contagious overall.  

The studies on contagiousness are all relatively fresh. There are more on the way. The CDC has several new studies researchers are working on to find out if the levels of virus carried by vaccinated and unvaccinated people are truly equal.

As the studies are completed and reviewed, our experts believe we will have a more clear answer to how contagious people are who are either vaccinated or unvaccinated.

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