As you surely know, this country’s covid vaccination effort has been plagued by great labor pangs: registration snafus, poor communication, erroneous dates, and poor vaccine supplies – all exacerbated by unequal allocation, alleged political favoritism, and inappropriate shooting.
However, by Friday, more than 118 million shots had been fired and about 42 million people, 12.6% of the country’s population, had been fully vaccinated. Almost a quarter of US citizens had at least one dose.
The introduction of vaccines is finally picking up speed – just as the deadly winter flood is over and infection rates, hospital stays and deaths are drastically reduced. President Joe Biden has promised enough vaccine for every adult in the country by the end of May and has given up hope of a return to semi-normal by July 4th.
We’ll see if that happens. Unfortunately, ill-advised behavior or a mutated strain of the Covid virus – or both – could still trigger another spike. And we’re not entirely sure how much a vaccination will keep you from infecting unvaccinated people or how long it will protect you from Covid.
Conclusion: optimism is required, but all of us – including those who have been vaccinated – still have to be careful.
In case you missed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new public health guidelines on March 8th that offer a glimpse into the not-too-distant future if enough people are vaccinated. The most noticeable point was that it is okay for vaccinated people to meet indoors unvaccinated Members of another household without a mask as long as no one in this household is at risk for severe Covid.
This is big news if you haven’t seen your children or grandchildren in person in a while. If you are fully vaccinated, It is now likely safe to visit her indoors without a mask, regardless of her vaccination status. You can even hug her.
As long as they don’t live too far away, that means: The CDC still frowns when traveling long-distance.
If everyone in your group is vaccinated, the better. In this case, hosting a maskless dinner party in your home, for example, is “likely to be a low risk” under the new guidelines.
Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco, warns against interpreting this new freedom too liberally: “People say, ‘Oh, we can have a 50-person wedding reception in a hotel for as long as they do all vaccinated. ‘I say,’ What about the people who serve you – are they all vaccinated? What about the band? ‘”
Public health experts and the CDC agree that if you are vaccinated and in the company of people who don’t – or if you don’t know their status – you should continue using the protective measures of masking and maintaining your distance .
“What I say to vaccinated people is,” You should assume that you are one of the 5 or 6% who will fail vaccination and that everyone around you is a super spreader, “says Rutherford.
That means you should probably put your inner brakes on before going to the movies, working out at the gym, getting on a plane, or dining indoors at a restaurant.
Dr. Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center and professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, points out a possible side effect of the new CDC approach. “It can improve vaccine uptake by showing people that after vaccination you have more freedom to do things,” he says.
Orenstein, like most public health experts, admits that we still have an incomplete picture of Covid and how vaccines will work in the real world. Officials need to set guidelines based on the best data available at the time, he says. “If there is actually a significant increase in the cases, they have to revise them.”
Orenstein says he is incorporating the new guidelines into his personal life for the time being. “We hadn’t brought people home in ages, and we had a few last night,” he says. They were all vaccinated and did not wear masks.
Others are concerned about waning too soon, even if they have been vaccinated.
“I feel really relieved, but it hasn’t changed my behavior,” said Sam Sandmire, a 65-year-old retired gym trainer in Boise, Idaho, who received two doses of the Moderna vaccine. “I still mask myself and will continue to mask and social distance until science shows I can’t infect others.”
Andy Mosley, 74, says he’s not entirely convinced of the new CDC statement. “The information we could hang out again was littered with many qualifiers,” says Mosley, a Temecula, Calif. Resident, who also took two recordings of the Moderna vaccine. “That tells me that you are not really sure.”
But he can change his behavior in one case. He has not seen his daughter, a cook who has lived in San Francisco since October 2019. She is due to have an operation soon and may need his help. “Because she was vaccinated and I was vaccinated and her roommate was vaccinated, I would feel safe up there,” says Mosley. “So that would be a change. But I would go; I wouldn’t fly “
Many others, including state and local politicians, are less cautious. Texas recently abolished its mask mandate. Florida has remained largely open to business through much of the pandemic.
In California, 13 counties, which make up nearly half of the state’s population, have reopened indoor gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants – albeit at reduced levels. These include Los Angeles County, one of the hardest hit regions in the US during the winter flood. And Governor Gavin Newsom has suggested that California’s four-tier color-coded system for gradual reopening could soon add a “green” tier – meaning it’s pretty much back to normal.
However, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says that premature open places “are about to get into big trouble” because he expects a new surge to be triggered by a fast – Spreading strain of Covid, first detected in the UK and expected to be the dominant strain in the US sometime this month.
For the time being, stick to masking and physical distancing in most social and commercial encounters. Get the vaccine once it is your turn and try to convince the people in your life to do the same. The more people vaccinated, the greater the protection for the community.
In the near future, we could all have an additional incentive to get vaccinated: Air travel, sporting events, concerts, and other public mass gatherings may require proof of vaccination. This is being considered in some parts of the US and is already happening in some countries.
For example, Israel has started issuing six-month vaccination records that allow access to sporting events, restaurants and other public facilities. That created “that kind of push for people who might otherwise not be that interested in getting vaccinated to get vaccinated,” says Rutherford.
This story was produced by KHN publishing the California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.
Contact Send us a story tip