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CDC director ‘inadvertently destroys’ argument for vaccine passports after saying vaccines do not ‘prevent transmission’

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Did Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inadvertently argue this week against controversial vaccine-verification systems, such as the one being used in New York City.

That was the conclusion being circulated on social media Friday following an interview in which Walensky claimed that COVID-19 vaccines do not “prevent transmission” of the virus.

What did Walensky say?

During an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, Walensky explained the CDC changed its mask guidance because fully vaccinated people can allegedly transmit the delta variant as readily as unvaccinated people.

That is when she claimed the vaccines do not prevent COVID-19 transmission.

“That was the reason that we changed our guidance last Tuesday,” Walensky said. “Our vaccines are working exceptionally well. They continue to work well with delta with regard to severe illness and death. They prevent it.”

“But what they can’t do anymore is prevent transmission,” she added.

Walensky then followed up by recommending people wear face masks indoors if they are surrounded by unvaccinated people or those who could be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Our vaccines are working exceptionally well,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky tells @wolfblitzer. “They continu… https://t.co/nIA1fmI2Zp

— The Situation Room (@The Situation Room)1628205297.0

What does the CDC say about vaccines?

Walensky’s remarks contradict what the CDC says about vaccines.

In fact, the CDC’s official website explains that vaccines are meant to prevent transmission of the disease or virus they protect against.

Vaccines contain the same germs that cause disease. (For example, measles vaccine contains measles virus, and Hib vaccine contains Hib bacteria.) But they have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick. Some vaccines contain only a part of the disease germ.

A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first. This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.

What was the reaction?

People reacted to Walensky’s comments by suggesting she is both undermining confidence in the vaccines and inadvertently eroding the argument for vaccine passports.

  • “Did the CDC Director just inadvertently destroy the whole argument for vaccine passports? LOL,” Christina Pushaw, spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, said.
  • “Is the CDC actively trying to talk people out of getting vaccinated?

    A lot of people aren’t necessarily worried about COVID for themselves but MIGHT get vaccinated to protect others. The CDC Director is telling people that’s no longer a possibility,” Republican communication strategist Matt Whitlock said.

  • “Unfortunately what the CDC Director doesn’t seem realize is that she’s undermining the public confidence in the vaccines. This Administration continues to fumble on this COVID response. smh,” one person said.
  • “Another example of how the CDC has been a complete failure during covid,” another person said.
  • “Again, the CDC Director is currently the largest source of misinformation regarding Covid-19 vaccines. This is absolutely false. They have reduced efficacy against Delta transmission, but still substantial relative to being unvaccinated,” another person reacted.

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