As the COVID-19 vaccine distribution gains momentum across America, hope for returning to life as we knew it seems within reach. But to achieve a mask-less and crowd-filled future, we’ll still need our PPE. Even if you’ve already been vaccinated.
Anthony Fauci, M.D., the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned the public in November that “it’s not going to be a light switch” back to normalcy. He explained, “I would recommend to people to not abandon all public health measures just because you have been vaccinated.” Social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing appropriate PPE will continue.
WHY PPE IS CRUCIAL AFTER VACCINATION
Though vaccination is a great step toward eliminating COVID-19 from society at large, there is a basket case of reasons why it will take time for the nation to return to normal.
Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective. After you receive the vaccine, you may still be at risk, as 5-10% of vaccine recipients may still contract the virus.
Plus, the protective effect of a vaccine may take at least one month to reach its full impact, according to David Ho, a virologist working on antibody therapies for Covid-19 at Columbia University.
Once most people are protected and there's less virus circulating through communities, the advice and restrictions on may ease. Until then, there’s a chance you can still become infected after receiving your vaccine.
PROTECTING YOURSELF AND OTHERS
This virus has spread so rapidly because of its ability to be transmitted without any symptoms.
Scientists have not yet determined if the vaccines offer sterilizing immunity, in which those who are vaccinated can’t contract or pass on the virus at all. Both the Pfizer and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with COVID-19. It’s possible that some vaccinated people become infected, but not develop any symptoms, subsequently transmitting the virus without being aware.
Thankfully, more than 9.5 million people have been fully vaccinated with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC data updated in early February. Until we learn more and get a handle on positive cases, the CDC states on its website that “the combination of getting vaccinated and following recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.”