Masks And Distancing Must Persist Even As Vaccines Roll Out

Jan 8, 2021

Credit KPCW

The coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective, but not until both doses have been given. Once vaccinated, it doesn’t mean that mask wearing and social distancing ends.

Freedom from mask wearing and social gatherings will not be eliminated from public protocols when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available for the general population. According to Park City Hospital Medical Director Dr. Wing Province, it will take until late summer or fall before it will be safe to make social changes. He explains how vaccines will decrease the severity of illness but will not make you 100% immune. He points to last year’s influenza outbreak in Park City and said the flu vaccine was about 60% effective.

“Half of the patients that I was admitting to the Park City Hospital had received the flu vaccine and yet they came in and they were positive for flu and were requiring oxygen and requiring a hospitalization. People were still getting it despite being vaccinated.

Province said the three coronavirus vaccines currently available shows 95 to 97% efficacy. He had his first dose a couple days before Christmas and will get his second one 21 days from then. He said he will continue to mask up, social distance and practice frequent handwashing until 70 to 80% of the population is vaccinated.

“We still have to be responsible for each other’s health and well-being. We still need to put the needs of others ahead of our own. We still need to make those personal sacrifices to make sure that the most vulnerable people in our community do not contract this disease and have to be hospitalized or potentially even die from it.”

Province said he had a sore arm after his vaccination. Patients are kept for a 15-minute observation after being given the vaccine. He said people who are resistant to taking the vaccination must weigh the risk/benefit calculation.

He dispelled two theories of misinformation about vaccines which are circulating in some media platforms.

“Well, as it relates to the vaccine, I’ve heard a few theories, conspiracy theories even. One is that we're getting microchips implanted into us by receiving this vaccine, and that's just not true. Another theory I've heard is that fetuses have been used to make this vaccine--unborn children--and that is also not true. That is not the case. These are mRNA vaccines. There's no need to use any kind of human tissue to create an mRNA vaccine.”

Province said the mRNA vaccine will be effective with the original COVID-19 strain, and the new more contagious mutation.

Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Todd Vento said people who have had COVID-19 are considered by the Centers for Disease Control to be immune for three to six months after onset of symptoms. The CDC recommends getting the vaccine after three months.

“For three to six months, there's evidence that a lot of patients actually will still keep some antibodies. Now, in terms of their risk of spreading, most patients did not grow the virus in our culture after say eight, nine, 10-days.  The CDC went with, if you have a non-severe COVID infection and you’re at the 10th day from your duration of your onset of symptoms and you don't have any fever anymore for at least 24 hours, and your symptoms are improved, they don't have to be gone, but if improved, you can still test positive, but you're not felt to be infectious to others.”

Vento said the data shows a decreased risk of symptomatic infection for those who have had a vaccine but there is no certainty that a vaccinated person will not transmit the illness to others.

“Therefore, we still tell everyone who receives the vaccine that they continue to mask, continue to physically distance and avoid crowds and indoor gatherings in particular so those.”

Vento said those messages have not changed and he anticipates they will remain in place throughout the duration of the pandemic.