The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are among the most effective on the market to prevent us from getting COVID-19. What we're still learning is if those vaccines will keep us from spreading the virus to someone else.
"Being vaccinated protects you from severity of illness, possibly from getting infected, but certainly from getting severe COVID-19 disease," Dr. Cauwels explains.
"But what (a vaccination) doesn't do is coat you in a layer of plastic wrap. It doesn't keep you from ever touching the virus. So, if you inhale it, there is still the possibility that you could sneeze it at somebody else. While we're working through that and while we're decreasing the number of people that can carry that virus by giving the vaccine, it's still important to protect yourself and to protect the other people you love."
Protocols still in place to protect residents, staff
In Good Samaritan Society senior care facilities nationwide as some are looking toward the ability to fully re-open and get back a sense of normalcy, operations vice president Nathan Schema says masking will stick around for awhile.
“We believe that, for a variety of reasons, not just the vaccine, masking keeps people healthy. It keeps the flu out of our buildings. Quite frankly, we just don’t know all the science just yet around how COVID is transmitted and whether not, even though you’ve been vaccinated, can you be a carrier? Until we have more information from the CDC and other regulatory bodies, we need to continue to wear masks to keep people safe,” Nathan Schema says.
Mask wearing, coupled with hand hygiene and social distancing, will ultimately help the slow phased reopening process.
“It’s allowing us to open up sooner. The more we adhere to those fundamental and basic protocols, the sooner we’re going to be able to get more and more visitors in. So we can have that birthday party. We can have that special dinner for you and your family. Masks, we’ve got to keep wearing them,” Schema adds.
'Shots in arms end a pandemic'
Getting people vaccinated will help us get closer to ending the pandemic, Dr. Cauwels says.
"If you ask me what things look like a year from now, I can say — at that point — we may be vaccinated to where we can talk about less masking and less restrictions and that sort of thing. In order to do that, we have to vaccinate a very substantial portion of our population. Until then, it's important to recognize that the presence of a vaccine doesn't end a pandemic; the number of shots we get in arms ends a pandemic.
"It is important for us to move from celebrating having a vaccine and to the hard work of getting the vaccine to the people."
The big goal is to have 80% of the population vaccinated, Dr. Cauwels explains.
"As you can see from very infectious, pediatric diseases like measles ... when we get up into the 90% range of vaccinated school children, we effectively eliminate measles from transmitting in school systems. So, getting to those kind of numbers will be the type of things that will truly end a pandemic."