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COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean you can party like it’s 1999, expert says

COVID-19 vaccines can stop the virus. But that doesn’t mean you’re all clear to start breathing on me again

Jamie Bone, a Davis County Health Department registered nurse, prepares a syringe of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Legacy Center Indoor Arena in Farmington on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines can stop the virus. But that doesn’t mean you’re all clear to start breathing on me again.
Jamie Bone, a Davis County Health Department registered nurse, prepares a syringe of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Legacy Center Indoor Arena in Farmington on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines can stop the virus. But that doesn’t mean you’re all clear to start breathing on me again.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out throughout the country, bringing a message of hope to people across the United States. But getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you should go to that Lil Bow Wow concert just yet.

What’s happening

Namandje Bumpus, director of the department of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University, recently told The Washington Post that getting the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean you’ll immediately return to pre-COVID-19 life.

  • “There are many people that think it’s kind of an antidote to it all and that once you’re vaccinated, you won’t have to mask or distance or any of those things,” Bumpus said. “Certainly, all of us getting vaccinated moves us toward that more quickly, but it’s not something that we’re going to be able to do as soon as we get vaccinated. We’re going to have to continue to be diligent the way that we have been.”

In fact, some social gatherings still have some risk, even if everyone there is vaccinated. Bumpus told The Washington Post in-person hangouts among vaccinated people will likely “end up being lower-risk. But right now, we just don’t know.”

Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The Washington Post: “I feel like a gathering of a small number of people where everyone is vaccinated is a much safer situation — much — than it was before we had vaccines,” Sax said. “The only thing that people want to hear, though, is, ‘Is it 100% safe?’ And we don’t have proof of that yet.”

Be careful with the first dose, too

University of Utah Health Division of Infectious Diseases associate professor Dr. Emily Spivak told the Deseret News that people who get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t feel free to do whatever they want, either.

  • “The whole point of the second dose is to boost the sort of the amount of antibody and the amount of immunity that you have and hopefully the length. We just don’t even know how long the protection is after two doses,” Spivak said.

In fact, Spivak told the Deseret News she’s seen people who got their first dose still get infected.

  • “Whether that was because they let their guard down, hard to know. But I would definitely really caution people between the first and second dose, to really presume that you have no protection, probably. You want to be careful even after the second dose until we can get the whole population vaccinated,” she said.