Vaccines currently approved by the FDA are effective at preventing hospitalization and preventing death. However, scientists still don’t know much about the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing viral transmission. That’s why public health officials insist that people keep wearing masks and avoid large social gatherings. But what about individuals who have received both their first and second COVID-19 vaccine? Would their guidelines be any different?
During a recent White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases talked about the types of social gatherings that can be done safely if you’ve been fully vaccinated.
“I have been asked and I’ve said publicly that, as we get more and more people vaccinated, the logical question that was just asked…is an important question. And that is, ‘What happens if you get doubly vaccinated people with the Pfizer and Moderna?’” Dr. Fauci stated.
“For example, members of a family, people coming in— like I use the example of a daughter coming in from out of town who is doubly vaccinated and a husband and wife doubly vaccinated, and maybe a next door neighbor who, you know, doubly vaccinated.”
Dr. Fauci outlines these types of gatherings as relatively safe: “Small gatherings in the home of people, I think you can clearly feel that the risk — the relative risk is so low that you would not have to wear a mask, that you could have a good social gathering within the home.”
As for larger gatherings, Dr. Fauci had this to say, “[Anything] beyond that is going to be based on a combination of data, a combination of modeling and a combination of good clinical common sense and the CDC is working on that right now.”
We are not out of the woods yet
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and herself a part of the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing together with Dr. Fauci said that the CDC is working on a list of guiding principles for people who’ve taken a Covid-19 vaccine. However, she reminds us that the risk of getting Covid-19 or helping in transmitting it to someone else is still very high even with the vaccine.
“I want to really keep our eye on the fact that our cases are increasing right now, slightly, but they are,” she said. “And so the goal is not to sort of open up travel, open up things because we’re scaling up vaccination. The goal in those first hundred days has always been to sort of make sure that we are in a place to be out of this pandemic and 70,000 cases per day. We’re not in that place right now. So while we may have guidance at the individual level as Dr. Fauci has suggested. I think we all need to keep our eye on the fact that we’re not out of the woods here yet.”
Dr. Fauci went on to add that “the setting in a home of a small group of people having dinner together, all of whom have vaccinated is very different when you step out the door and go into a society that has 70,000 new infections per day.”
In other words, while smaller gatherings with vaccinated people are now much more acceptable, attending larger gatherings with strangers is still incredibly dangerous.
So, following the 3 big fundamentals in these situations is still a must – wear a mask, keep social distancing, and maintain good hygiene.
Vaccines aren’t perfect
Whether we like it or not, we don’t live in a world of perfect solutions. While there is still lingering doubts about the vaccines’ effects on viral transmission, a growing body of evidence suggests otherwise.
Two recent studies, one from the UK and the other from Israel, both showed promising results. These findings are consistent with what scientists know about vaccines and viral transmission in general.
Even if current covid vaccines aren’t perfect, they’re still the best solution that we have at giving us back a semblance of normalcy as we approach summer 2021.