Understandably, people want their vaccines. Vaccine envy and vaccine despair are real emotions. The truth is we must be patient while we wait for things to sort out. It has been a rough start with not enough immunizations allotted. We now have an administration pushing hard but the manufacturing of vaccines and supplies takes time. Think about making the little glass vials that hold the doses and other necessary items like syringes and needles. Things are starting to move faster now and more will be vaccinated. Just probably not as fast as we all would like.
Receiving your immunization is a relief when it happens, but the hard truth is that the vaccines alone will not save us, especially over the next few months. Since the vaccines take time to manufacture and distribute, we must continue our efforts to minimize spread. This interactive from the New York Times explains the risks and data pretty well. This study from Lancet lends support to the effectiveness of wearing masks and social distancing. This article has more data supporting mask wearing and this MMWR report shows the mitigating effect of social distancing and mask wearing. These COVID Vaccine FAQ’s from the New England Journal of Medicine help explain why it takes time to develop our immunity after the vaccine.
Even though total cases in the US are starting to drop, many in public health fear the effect of the new variants that are coming. Here is a good article talking about how to protect yourself and others from the new variants, which is to continue what we have been doing for the past 10 months. Except, maybe, reconsider your mask and how you wear it when you are around others. Many people wear their masks while doing errands and then let down their guard around friends and family, removing their masks. Others wear masks that are too loose with lots of gaps or that fall below the nose easily, needing to keep adjusting the mask and exposing others with their nose out in the open. Finding masks with metal nose pieces that bend to fit tightly over the bridge helps prevent fallen nose syndrome. This also helps decrease glasses fogging up. Or consider wearing double masks. Better masking right now is important and can give you and others more protection.
It will be tempting after vaccination to relax your habits but be cautious. First of all, it takes time to develop full immunity to prevent illness and we don’t yet know if the vaccines cause sterilizing immunity to prevent asymptomatic infection. I don’t want to inadvertently cause an infection in an un-immunized person, if I made that mistake.
Other news is that Moderna is already starting to design and test a booster vaccine that is more effective agains the new variants. I suspect we will be getting yearly COVID vaccines along with our flu shots in the future.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and make sure your mask fits.