With two effective COVID-19 vaccines and a third having received FDA authorization for use, the two questions on America’s minds are 1) where and when do I get one? and 2) Once I do, what can I do that I can’t do now?
The first question is an enigma with clarifying answers every day. President Biden announced recently that all adult Americans will have access to a vaccine by May 2021, yet uniform prognostication is not possible as states determine their own roll out of vaccine priorities
What can I do once I am vaccinated? This is a tougher pill for us to swallow – especially as many of us are naïve to HOW we lived our modern lives safely protected from infectious diseases.
What do I mean by this? The ability to gather safely from contracting and transmitting communicable diseases does not just rely on each of us getting our shots, but this combined with a super-majority of us getting our shots. Personal immunity from serious disease or death from COVID-19 vaccines we have in the US to date is a miracle in and of itself and is reason enough to become vaccinated. Yet, most Americans do not understand that it is community immunity (the percentage of those immunized that ‘buffer’ transmission from occurring in those who cannot be vaccinated or for those whom the vaccine did not generate a sufficient response). Our community immunity rates against pertussis, measles, pneumococcal disease or meningitis is what allows us to hop on a plane without a mask, go to a concert without fear of contracting disease or host that New Year’s party without an outbreak.
As we each become vaccinated we will enjoy the relief of knowing we are unlikely to suffer severe COVID-19. Yet, we must understand that we need our community immunity to grow before we can gather safely. We rely on friends, families, fellow worshipers and gym members, teachers, essential workers and complete strangers everywhere to have access to and accept vaccination on behalf of our modern lifestyles.
Thus, getting to 80-90% public COVID-19 vaccination is in ALL of our personal interest. The rub of communicable disease is our decisions are not just our decisions; they effect the ability of our communities to gather without masks, distancing and globs of hand sanitizer. And while we may not stop hand hygiene when the pandemic is broken, it is essential for us to understand that we are gathering safely because of a majority of someones decided to stick out their arm, for them and for all of us.