Why you still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing amid COVID vaccine rollout

It’s not clear when it will be safe to return to ‘normal’

DETROIT – According to the CDC, more than 44 million Americans have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As the number of vaccinated citizens rises, more people are having questions about when it will be safe to return to certain activities.

It takes about two weeks after receiving the second vaccine for people to reach full protection. Even after being fully vaccinated people will not be able to return to life as they used to be.

READ: Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases

Dr. William Schaffner is an infectious disease specialist.

“Vaccines are not a suit of armor, but they are getting us closer to the finish line,” Schaffner said.

Schaffner recommends starting small and slow -- like expanding your COVID bubble to include other vaccinated individuals.

“Two older couples, both everybody completely vaccinated, could get together and do so with relative safety,” Schaffner said.

Schaffner advises significantly more caution in environments that attract larger crowds. Such as indoor restaurants, churches and gyms. Especially if not everyone in your household is vaccinated or if you live with anyone considered high-risk.

“The vaccines are very effective, 95 percent. But I didn’t say 100 percent. So, you still want to protect yourself. And the other thing is, we still don’t know whether these vaccines protect against infection. Could you be infected and still pass this virus to other persons? We don’t know that,” Schaffner said.

Until herd immunity is reached people should still wear masks, social distance and wash their hands often. The vaccines are effective at preventing people from getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19, but it’s not clear yet if they reduce our ability to spread the illness to others.

Studies are taking place now, so the answers could be available relatively soon. Every person that gets vaccinated brings the world one step closer to loosening up some restrictions.

READ: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 vaccine data

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