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So What Can People Actually Do after Being Vaccinated? From "The Scientific American" Magazine

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It’s complicated; not even the experts agree


"The first raft of stories in the wake of the Biden administration’s dramatic acceleration of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the U.S. centered on all the things the newly vaccinated among us can and cannot do, as if we were working off a master list of approved activities.

Like so many things associated with this pandemic, the truth is nowhere near that clean. No such list exists, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has only issued recommendations, not requirements. Community and regional medical metrics come into play, and politics will carry its own dark weight when it comes to local or statewide decisions in areas as critical as masking, capacity in buildings and restaurants and so on.

Even such basic concepts as risk are subject to variances of opinion, as I discovered while soliciting input from several medical experts across the country and abroad. And as there are no clinical trials to address many of these questions, scientists are left to provide their best recommendations based on their interpretation of risk tolerance, both at an individual and population level, and their scientific knowledge of the virus and its kinetics.

First, here’s where the experts agree: The levels of protection provided by all of the available vaccines in clinical trials were extraordinary when it came to preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. While the new variants pose a threat, most of those interviewed believe that current vaccines should provide reasonable protection there, too.


“To date, based on the studies by Johnson & Johnson in South Africa and Brazil, the vaccines will likely prevent hospitalization and death caused by the variants,” Paul Offit, an internationally recognized expert in virology and immunology and director of the Vaccine Education Center, wrote in an e-mail.

This is not the same as saying that a safe haven has been established. Most experts concurred that although we’ve seen declines in new daily cases of coronavirus since early January, the U.S. is still experiencing high levels of transmission of the virus, with approximately 60,000 new cases reported daily and about 1,500 deaths every day. These remain very high numbers.

“Our return to normalcy will be in two phases and is driven by two factors: the level of virus transmission in our communities and the proportion of people fully vaccinated,” says William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center and professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Because of the high levels of viral spread and the low proportion of U.S. citizens fully vaccinated, Moss says, things like masking, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large crowds remain critically important.

Vaccination efforts across the country have ramped up significantly in recent weeks. Currently, in the U.S., 2.1 million people are being vaccinated daily. More than 93 million doses have been administered in total, with 18 percent of Americans having received one dose and 9 percent two doses. President Biden has said that coronavirus vaccine should be available to all U.S. adults by the end of May.

But the questions of mobility, interaction and risk assessment are thorny ones. The good news (and, for many, the best news) is a general consensus that vaccinated people should be able to get together with others who’ve also received the vaccine, ditching masks and distancing precautions. The risk of infecting one another in these so called “immunity bubbles” is pretty low; Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical officer, concurs that small, maskless social gatherings in the home of those who are “doubly vaccinated” should be fine. New CDC public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people published March 8 likewise allow for fully vaccinated people to visit with other vaccinated people in a private setting, unmasked, without distancing.

Beyond that, though, the line becomes harder to draw."

More in "The Scientific American" article here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/so-what-can-people-actually-do-after-being-vaccinated/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=today-in-science&utm_content=link&utm_term=2021-03-10_top-stories&spMailingID=69795012&spUserID=NTAzMDg3NDk0MDIzS0&spJobID=2081191271&spReportId=MjA4MTE5MTI3MQS2

Safe Travels!

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