As states ramp up their distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, a return to normalcy feels within reach. But, how long will it take to achieve herd immunity in our communities? Will we still need masks and social distancing– and for how long? Below, we answer your questions surrounding life after vaccination.
How many people need to get a COVID- 19 vaccine to achieve herd immunity?
Herd immunity occurs when enough people in a community are protected from getting COVID-19 because they’ve either already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated. Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person, and it even protects those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns. According to an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Fauchi “believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt.”
Do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing after I get vaccinated?
Short answer: yes.
More research is needed on whether the vaccine will keep you from spreading the virus to others. And because it will take time for our communities to achieve herd immunity, we need to continue using tried-and-true methods to help slow the spread. Use face masks to cover your mouth and nose when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often.
Why get the vaccine if I still need a mask?
The vaccines are incredibly effective in protecting you from serious illness. Two shots of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces your risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by about 95%. There’s no way of knowing how COVID-19 will affect you. Protect yourself and others by getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.
The CDC is learning how the vaccines work in a real-world setting. For now, it’s important we all do our part in slowing the spread.