Stay Safe and Physically Distant
As vaccines are distributed and administered across Canada (and around the world), it feels as though we are all breathing a collective sigh of relief that the end of the pandemic just may be in sight.
This next phase of the pandemic – as people are getting vaccinated – is also proving to be a little confusing when it comes to what it means to be protected by the first shot of a two-dose vaccine. This is further complicated by the fact that some countries, and even some regions in the same country, are putting out different guidelines of what you can and cannot do once you have had the first shot – or for those fortunate enough, both shots.
The Guardian newspaper (out of the UK) recently published an article that speaks to this.
A key point in the article says: “Don’t assume you’re protected until you’ve received both doses.” It also cites the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has stated that ”fully vaccinated” people can gather indoors with others who are also fully vaccinated without masks or physically distancing. It considers “fully vaccinated” to mean two weeks after getting a second dose.
The article does go on to say that with one shot, there is protection – but you shouldn’t let your guard down just yet. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t somewhat protected. This CBC article reports that new research shows that the first vaccine may offer strong protection and reduce transmission to others (which is very good news). However, it also states that we still don’t have all of the answers – and that means that erring on the side of caution may be a good approach. At this point, it is also important to keep in mind that there are variants that are emerging around the world, which complicates what we know about the level of immunization from the vaccines.
There is a bit of good news (there is protection from the virus with the first shot) mixed with “please be patient” guidance. According to a recent article in The Globe and Mail: “Even though a first dose may offer partial protection against death and severe illness, those who have not received their second doses should continue to behave as though they were unvaccinated, experts say. That means continuing to avoid crowds and closed spaces, to wear masks and to practise physical distancing.”
This Global News piece explains that while scientists have done an incredible job in working to understand the virus and how it acts and reacts, there is still a great deal that is unknown.
The challenge is, we’re human. We want to see – and hug – our family. We want to hang out with friends at the local pub or coffeeshop. We want in-person rather than Zoom meetings for work. We want to have people over for dinner and to go shopping and to travel. We want things to feel normal again.
The nicer spring and summer weather gives us the opportunity to be outdoors and to meet with others while remaining physically distant. While more and more of us get our first and second shot, we move closer to being able to return to some level of normalcy – and that is something to look forward to.
Stay safe and healthy – and be patient. We will get there.