After the world spent a rough 14 months living in pandemic mode, things are looking up for the future with the recent advancements in COVID-19 vaccinations. 195 million doses have already been given in the U.S., and we have reached an average of vaccinating three million adults per day.
Naturally, the global disruption in light of the pandemic has been tumultuous and exhausting, and thus many are loosening restrictions now under a false pretense that the number of cases are going down. The worst may have already passed, and it is true that being fully vaccinated offers an essential protection against the virus, but COVID cases are still rising and the spread of the virus is still a real threat. We should therefore continue treating it as one.
Despite the swift administration of vaccine shots in the U.S., one of the most efficient in the world, cases are on the rise in 27 states. There are about 69,000 daily in the U.S. and 6,420 specifically in Florida. The state of Michigan was advised to “shut things down” by the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after reporting the highest level of daily infections.
This is because the vaccine is only one of a combination of tools needed to control and end the pandemic. A boost in vaccinations will not stop the spread of the virus alone, especially when scientists are still unsure if you can still transmit the virus even after being vaccinated. It dramatically reduces symptoms, but the chance of spreading the virus is not zero, according to Harvard University epidemiologists.
This is because the vaccine is only one of a combination of tools needed to control and end the pandemic.
That is why it is still critical to keep yourself and those close to you safe by following the CDC guidelines we have lived with for the past year: wearing a mask or facial covering, washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding medium and large sized in-person gatherings.
According to the CDC, you can visit other fully vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing once vaccinated. It is also safe to visit those who haven’t been vaccinated as long as they aren’t high-risk or immunocompromised. Keep in mind that it takes two weeks after the second dose to be fully vaccinated. The shot offers protection in small groups, but when it comes to large events such as parties, we should follow precautions. The threat of the virus is still real.
The many variables currently at play can be confusing, especially to the millions of pandemic-fatigued Americans who are eager to return to normal.
But health experts are hopeful for the future. Vaccines are a step in the right direction. There is just a need to stay vigilant for a little longer. It falls again into the hands of common sense. Remaining diligent in protecting yourself from COVID-19 will pay off in the long run. 2021 does not have to be a sequel to 2020.
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic