By Reaghan Mulligan | Opinion Editor
January 10, 2021
According to plans from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three phases of vaccine release, each phase involving smaller groups based on age and circumstance. Although high risk groups are receiving vaccinations before declared “lower risk” citizens, the vaccine will eventually make its way to the general public. Once the vaccination becomes widely available, will our day to day life look any different? Will we finally be able to hug loved ones and return to normal?
As much as everyone would hope things would automatically fall right back to how they were a year ago, this virus doesn’t seem to be planning on going away—even with the aiding of vaccines to slow the spread. Due to the method of rolling out the vaccine to the public as well as a lower number of current doses available, cases will still be coming and going.
This means that those who have been vaccinated already by the time May or June rolls around—which is when the vaccine is expected to reach the low-risk public—should continue to wear their masks and social distance, despite fantasies of reaching the old “normal.” Right now, this is the new “normal,” and people should probably get accustomed to it.
Furthermore, due to the need for more than one dosage of the vaccine as well as progressive effectiveness in the days and weeks after receiving the shot, while one may be considered fully vaccinated, they may still be a potential risk, and should err on the side of caution. Masks will most likely stick around even after herd immunity is achieved.
“People should assume for the next 4 to 6 months, they’ll still need to be doing the kinds of preventive measures in terms of face masks and distancing we had to do before there was a vaccine,” professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA, Dr. Timothy Brewer, said.
It is estimated that around 70% or 230 million Americans will need to receive the vaccine in order to reach a collective herd immunity through the vaccination, according to emergency physician and CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. As of January 7, the CDC has reported just over 5.9 million initiations of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Wearing masks and socially distancing indoors should be especially essential while herd immunity develops,” sophomore Kayla McLaughlin said. “It’s going to be difficult to begin to move back to normal, but hopefully we can do it safely and as soon as possible.”
We still have a long way to go until life can begin to return to ‘normal’ and in some senses, ‘normal’ as we once knew it may never return, rather an adapted version.
“People might disregard theirs and others’ safety after getting the vaccine, thinking everything will automatically be back to the way it was in March,” junior Samantha Shaw said. “We need to remain cautious.”
While waiting your turn for the next few months to receive the vaccine, you should be remaining vigilant and cautious—especially due to the exponential spike in cases thanks to the recent holiday festivities all across America. Wear your masks, social distance, and wash your hands often in order to minimize the risk of both catching and spreading the virus.