Some of you may have already received your COVID-19 vaccination, and others may be patiently waiting. The vaccines have proven to be over 94% effective after 2 doses, which is incredible and shows that hope is on the horizon. With more and more Americans getting vaccinated each day, you might be wondering what the next step is. Do you have to wear a mask? Can you still get COVID-19? We want to explore what happens after you get the COVID-19 vaccine and how life will or won’t change.
No Noticeable Changes to Daily Life
After you receive your COVID-19 vaccinations, nothing should drastically change. You should continue to be cautious about the virus because there are still so many individuals waiting to get their vaccines. Health experts recommend that you remain cautious, maintain social distancing guidelines, and continue washing your hands regularly until we are able to achieve herd immunity in the United States. Some speculate that herd immunity could be achieved when around 60% to 70% of the country is vaccinated. But Dr. Anthony Fauci thinks that the threshold may be 75% of higher.
Additionally, there are new strains of the virus spreading throughout the world. While researchers believe that the vaccines can protect against these strains, it’s still best to be cautious — especially until we have more research on these strains and the vaccines’ effectiveness against them. As a result, you may want to continue limiting your travel and your exposure to family members and strangers alike.
You Could Still Contract COVID-19
You might be thinking that the vaccine is like your bulletproof armor. Although the vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are both over 94% effective, there is still a small percentage that you could get COVID-19 even after getting the vaccine. Luckily, if you do contract the virus, you are more likely to have a very mild case of COVID-19.
Additionally, the clinical trials were designed to test whether the vaccines could prevent the disease and not specifically if individuals who are vaccinated could be asymptomatic and spread the virus to others. So, it is possible that you could contract COVID-19 without even knowing it and pass it on to your loved ones who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
Continue Wearing Masks
Because you should still continue to be cautious, you should wear masks in public. Unfortunately, the vaccine is not like turning off the light or closing the book on COVID-19. It will be a gradual process, so for now, keep your masks on.
Wearing a mask after you’re vaccinated can help protect you in case you are in the small percentage that could contract the disease. But wearing a mask also encourages those who haven’t been vaccinated to keep wearing their masks until we reach herd immunity across the country. If a few people start taking their masks off, then the general attitude might shift so that everyone feels like they no longer need to wear a mask.
When Can We Get Back to Normal?
According to Dr. Dan Culver, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic, said that we might not see any substantial changes until “well into the second quarter” of 2021. Why? It takes time for Pfizer and Moderna to produce their vaccines, and even more time to distribute the vaccines and for healthcare professionals to administer them.
One challenge to administering the vaccines is that the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at ultracold temperatures. Think -70 degrees Celsius. Many healthcare facilities aren’t equipped with freezers to store the vaccine safely. That means that distribution facilities could be limited as well.
Reuters has a great dynamic graphic that shows how fast we could achieve herd immunity. Based on a pace of 750,000 doses administered per day, the United States will reach the threshold of 75% vaccinated individuals by October 2022. That means that we might not see significant changes until next year.
This could be disheartening news, but there is still hope! You have joined the percentage of our country that has been vaccinated. You can encourage your loved ones to get the vaccines as soon as they are able to. There may be individuals who are hesitant to get vaccinated until there is more research or until more people have been vaccinated. Your experience and encouragement could help them decide to get the vaccine. This effort will help get us one step closer to herd immunity.
There are some things that may never change as well. And that’s okay. We will adapt to a new normal that could include more working from home and a lot of virtual meetings. You can think about the effects of 9/11, which took place 20 years ago. We still have tight airport security as a result, but we are still able to travel! So, things may look a little bit different, but we will adapt as we always have.
Part of that new normal could be regular COVID-19 vaccines, like the flu. While COVID-19 doesn’t mutate as fast as the flu, your immunity will eventually go away. We may need to get vaccinated every few years to maintain immunity. Just remember that this is a marathon, but we will all get through it together.
Caring’s Role in Preventing the Spread
At Caring Senior Service, we actively encourage our staff members to get the COVID-19 vaccinates as they become available. We have also adapted specific protocols in response to the outbreak of coronavirus and will continue to adjust based on recommendations from local health agencies, like the CDC and the WHO.
We’ve also worked to produce blogs, infographics, and resources to help you remain informed. For more information on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, review our Caregiver Infection Control Checklist and our Infographic on the Most Infectious Areas in Your Home. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our experts.