As the United States starts to kick up their Covide-19 vaccine production and distribution, you may still have some questions before you actually go into getting your shot: Do I still need to wear masks after we get the vaccine? Is the vaccine able to defend against the other, newer strains of Covid? When will I get the vaccine? And How long is the vaccine after I have gotten it?
The US has come a long way since the start of the pandemic a year ago. With over 500,000 deaths in the US alone since the beginning (NY Times), there is still a long way to go to beat Covid-19. But how long? People have been waiting for months to get their vaccine and questioned if they will ever get it. On March 2, Biden shared that the US will have enough vaccine supply by the end of May to vaccinate all adults in America. “We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said (NPR). Biden has also requested that states prioritize teachers and school staff as essential workers in the vaccine schedule. As the pandemic still continues to unfold, the White House is on track for a much-needed vaccine influx. Some of which will include the new single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Politico). This will lead to an increase in daily vaccinations of Americans.
Another big question is if the vaccine will protect people from the new strains of the virus? On January 21, in a press conference, Dr. Fauci shared that he sees that the vaccine will be able to protect you from the newer strains that are starting to arise. He shared that in regard to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the new Brazilian and the UK strains have a cushion effect. This means that although the chances of efficacy are lowered, they are still high enough that the vaccine will still protect and boost the antibody production (NBC).
Two questions that are still not quite understood to everyone are: Do people still need to wear a mask once they have the vaccine? And, how long are they protected for? As the times are starting to change with all the new vaccines that are out there, it is not an immediate cure-all. According to HuffPost, “Realistically, immunity is not achieved immediately after vaccination and the vaccine won’t be available to everyone at the same time. So, even after high-risk individuals and other groups are vaccinated, important mitigation measures like mask-wearing will continue” (HuffPost). Data shows that although the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are shown to be very high in efficacy, the Pfizer vaccine showed that there is still a 5% risk of still getting Covid and even higher in some other groups. So, although it will protect you in most cases, it is still a good idea to wear a mask for that small possibility that you may still get it. One other big question is that when people get the vaccine, how long will they be protected for? While speaking at a virtual event earlier this year, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel says that their vaccine could last years. “We believe there will be protection potentially for a couple of years,” Bancel said (CBS). So there is no worry for the long term efficacy of the vaccine.
In the end, the Covid-19 vaccines are seeming to be more accessible by the day, but there is still a ways to go to get the US to immunity. As the vaccine kicks up its rollout, Covid seems to be staying at a manageable level. So we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We just all need to stay home and stay safe.