The number of people in California who are vaccinated for COVID-19 is ticking up, with about 3 million doses shot into people’s arms to date.
Some people may think those lucky enough to have been at the front of the vaccination line can now rip off their masks, go on a hugging spree and book a trip around the world.
Those people would be wrong.
Health officials and doctors recommend doing nothing differently after you get your vaccine. Meaning you still have to wear a mask and keep your distance from other people.
Really? You may ask.
Here’s the logic.
Protection from both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines doesn’t start for at least 12 days after the first shot. At that point, you will have only about 50% protection, the studies show. After the second shot, that protection will eventually jump to more than 94%.
But 94% is not 100%. In fact, the numbers crunch out to about 1 in 20 people who are fully vaccinated could potentially become afflicted with COVID-19.
So that’s a big part of it. But the main reason you can’t let your guard down after vaccination is that even though the studies show tremendous efficacy in preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19, we still don’t know if the vaccines prevent transmission.
That means even though you are vaccinated and are not likely to show symptoms, you still may carry the coronavirus and pass it to somebody else.
It will take time to gather the data to find out how well the vaccine prevents the virus from spreading. For now, officials advise erring on the safe side even if you’re hanging out in a group of people who have all received their shots.
Eventually we won’t have to be so vigilant, but it’s going to take a while.
When 70-85% of the population is vaccinated, the protocols may loosen up.
“That’s when you get a veil or a blanket of protection over society that we call herd immunity,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this week. “Mainly, so many people are vaccinated or have been previously infected that the virus doesn’t have any place to go. It’s looking for vulnerable people, and they’re not around because most people are protected.”
Fauci says the number of positive cases must drop significantly before we can begin returning to our old lives. More than 165,000 tested positive cases in the U.S Thursday.
Vaccine experts cautiously say we won’t reach herd immunity until at least the fall and maybe even early next year before life begins to return to some kind of normal.