After a long, strange year, millions of people across the country are relieved to finally get their Covid-19 vaccines. But how long does it take for the vaccine to take effect and build up immunity? And once it has, does that mean it’s OK to start visiting loved ones without a mask?
We know how eager everyone is to ease our worries about this scary disease, so we reached out to Dr. Renee Dua, Chief Medical Officer of Heal, to get some answers.
When it comes to seeing family and friends after getting the shots, Dr. Dua tells us, “It’s important to wait 10 to 14 days after vaccinations to ensure a built up immune response.” That said, she recommends still remaining cautious. “Even though there are some improvements in the number of people being vaccinated, we still are learning much about the infection and we need to take measures to protect each other.”
Dua reminds us that until 70 to 80 percent of our entire population is vaccinated, we won’t have the herd immunity necessary for life to really start going back to “normal.” With that in mind, she says we should continue to wear masks, wash our hands, and remain physically apart even after we’ve been vaccinated. “We want to ensure that our loved ones are neither carrying nor exposing each other to this infection.”
If we follow these recommendations, Dua says current predictions show we should get back to normal by the fall. As for the new, more-infectious variants that have popped up, she says we it is likely that we will eventually need a booster vaccine to protect against them as well.
“Everyone is different and without knowing [others’] vaccination status, it still remains better to wear a mask and remain physically separated,” she emphasizes.
Remember, the current vaccinations offer about 95 percent protection against severe Covid infections. For comparison, birth control pills are said to be 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancies — but we all know surprises can happen there, too.
Although symptoms may be less life-threatening if someone contracts the virus after being vaccinated, they might still pass it onto someone who hasn’t been vaccinated and cause trouble for them. That’s why it’s so important to continue following mask and distancing guidelines until we reach that herd immunity.
Thankfully, we seem to be well on the road to achieving that true return to normalcy. (Knock on wood!)