Are You Fully Vaccinated? COVID 19 Pandemic Series April, 2021
At the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are now rolling out fast in the US. The more people being vaccinated, the sooner to end this pandemic. Every American will be eligible for a vaccine very soon and hope all shall be protected.
CDC issued an interim public health recommendation for fully vaccinated people on March 8, 2021 and more updates are expected for post-vaccination guidance. Some few key points to be aware:
Are fully-vaccinated people safe not to wear a mask? Yes and no. Socializing between fully vaccinated people in private settings like homes are considered safe without a mask. However, fully vaccinated people engaging in social activities in public settings like gyms, offices, restaurants and stores must take proper precautions. Regardless of vaccination status, requirement for wearing a face mask, practice social distance, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces remain unchanged.
Quarantine and testing may not be required for fully vaccinated people if they exposed to the virus, unless symptoms appear.
How long is the post-vaccine protection? This is still to be determined. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available. A recent large study [N = 46,000] found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is "highly effective" with 91.3 percent vaccine efficacy against symptomatic COVID seven days to at least six months after the second dose. Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity.
By the meantime, as many are anxious to get back to normal life and want to know -
Should I go to a bar/dine indoors? No. The reason indoor dining and drinking is unsafe isn’t because food spreads COVID, but the act of eating and drinking can spread the virus into the air. When people eat and drink, they can’t wear a mask. Therefore, their own droplets can flow into the air, and they can breathe in droplets from the people around them. These droplets can contain the coronavirus. Restaurants and bars are social areas, people tend to do a lot of talking and get close to each other. Most indoor restaurants and bars also lack good air circulation, nor do they have HEPA filters on their air circulation system. Bars and indoor meal gatherings have been hot spots for virus outbreaks.
Should I go to the hairdresser? Yes, with masks on you and your hairdresser, as well as limited salon capacity. A monthly visit to salon may be considered low risk.
Should I go to the gym? You may consider other fitness alternatives – going for a nature walk or work out at home, to minimize the unnecessary risks.
Should I go to the doctor/dentist/medical procedure? Yes, take care of your health care needs. Since medical staff were first in line for vaccination, by now, they should have been fully vaccinated. However, it is essential to wear face mask, keep social distance in the health care settings and wash hands well, even you are vaccinated.
Is it safe to take public transportation/travel by plane? Be Flexible and Cautiously Optimistic. The CDC is not endorsing travel for vaccinated individuals, saying it risks a surge in cases. CDC will revisit recommendations as more Americans get vaccinated. The CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people should still wear masks in public and continues to follow pandemic guidelines, but they can gather among themselves without masks indoors. If you are making travel plans, considering domestic designations over international getaways, go outdoors and nature, and bringing the appropriate food, drinks, and other supplies when possible. Keep yourself and others safe by wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and good personal hygiene.
Are the current vaccines effective for the new variance of coronavirus? The research is not yet conclusive to address this topic at this time. Findings, from laboratory-based experiments and published March 4, 2021 in Nature Medicine, suggest that COVID-19 drugs and vaccines developed thus far may become less effective as the new variants become dominant, as experts say they inevitably will. The researchers looked at variants from South Africa, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Risks are to be made aware for new variants infections even after fully vaccinated. Prevention remains important. Furthermore, encouraging data found that Pfizer's vaccine protects against the South Africa variant, as reported from a recent large study. More meaningful data shall become available from ongoing clinical trials and observational studies.
At the First Pandemic Anniversary
After one year of pandemic, we have learned good lessons in public health. Scientists are learning as much as possible about the impact of vaccination on transmission of the virus, including newly emerging variants globally. Data from countries that have successfully vaccinated large population will lead with more new findings from ongoing researches. The good news is that although the COVID 19 variants are concerning, human immune system may find ways to defend against new variants. Studies indicate that vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies in higher amounts than is typically made in a COVID 19 infection. While the vaccine roll out is making good progress, it’s hopeful to return to normal life, with the coronavirus being part of our normal life. The bottom line is we do our part to prevent virus transmission and infection, protecting ourselves and our community.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional for personal conditions.
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