The end of 2020 brought the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to our area, and a full public vaccination campaign is expected for this summer. However, health officials say the beginning of the vaccination campaign doesn’t mean the end of COVID-19 safety protocols.
At the county's COVID-19 update on Dec. 30, Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said we’re entering a “messy period,” where people need to continue masking and distancing even if they’ve been fully or partially vaccinated.
She said the efficacy rates of the current vaccines, which the FDA puts at or near 95 percent, are measured two weeks after the second dose is given. In other words, people won’t be immune to the virus for more than a month after their first shot.
“It will take about six weeks to when you have that full protection," Britten said. "While you’re waiting for that full protection, we have to continue doing the other things.”
With an estimated 70 percent of the population needing to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, Britten said we have a long road before we can get rid of all safety protocols. But, she said the more people that practice masking and distancing in the coming months, the shorter that road will become.
“This is going to be messy" Britten said. "We’re going to keep focused on that light at the end of the tunnel, but recognize that we’re still walking through it.”
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