FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Last Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t have to wear masks indoors and don’t have to socially distance from others.
This has caused many to wonder: is the pandemic over for those who are vaccinated?
“So, the pandemic is not over unfortunately,” said Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County’s health commissioner. “But, people who are fully vaccinated can do a lot more of the normal sorts of things, and that’s really good news. In general, these vaccines are very very effective which means once people get vaccinated, they’re pretty safe.”
The answer to when the pandemic will be over is still uncertain.
“Herd immunity isn’t really an on/off switch, it’s a dimmer,” said Dr. Sutter. “Unless a lot more people get vaccinated, we’re likely to continue having circulating COVID-19 and people will probably continue to die from this over the next couple of years.”
In regards to what “normal” means, anyone who got their last vaccine shot in the series more than two weeks prior, can gather with people indoors without a mask.
However, there are still some caveats. The new guidelines don’t apply to airline travel and airports, hospitals and medical facilities, detention centers and other places where there are state or local restrictions.
There’s also been some confusion about some stores requiring masks, while others are not. Dr. Sutter said that since there’s not a good way to know if someone’s vaccinated, it’s the individual stores right to make the call if they wish to continue requiring masks.
“The problem is, it’s hard to know who’s vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated, and unfortunately a lot of people who are not vaccinated also don’t like to wear masks and their risk of both spreading and getting the disease,” said Dr. Sutter. “Vaccine passports have become really political, and right now there is no clear way to know.”
He said as of now, the majority of people in Indiana and Allen County have not gotten vaccinated.
“They’re still at risk, even children who can’t get the vaccine yet, while their risk is very low, it’s not zero,” said Dr. Sutter. “I’d urge everyone to be cautious.”
He hopes the relaxed guidance will lead to more people getting their shots.
“I think that this is a real call for people to get vaccinated. They’re very safe and effective,” said Dr. Sutter. “I think people can be confident that once they get vaccinated, they can live their life safely and in a very normal way.”
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