Rebecca Katzman, MDBy Dr. Rebecca Katzman

The short answer – continue social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces, and avoiding being around other people if you have symptoms of coronavirus infection.  The longer answer:

There are currently 3 vaccines against COVID19 that have received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA; two consist of a two-dose mRNA vaccine and one is a single-dose viral vector vaccine. People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after completing their vaccine series. All of the vaccines are effective and it is recommended that someone receives whichever vaccine is available to them. All of the approved vaccines will protect against getting severely ill with COVID-19.

As of March 22, 2021, our local health district has expanded vaccine eligibility guidelines to include anyone 35 years of age or older residing in our 5 surrounding counties. Call our clinic at 208-476-5777 to schedule an appointment.

Although widespread vaccination is a key to getting through this pandemic, those who have completed the vaccine should recognize this is a not a free pass to stop all protective measures.  The mRNA vaccinations each have approximately 95% effectiveness; that means that there is a 5% chance that a fully vaccinated person has the same risk of getting COVID as an unvaccinated person.  This is a small risk for the vaccinated person and demonstrates the benefit of being vaccinated, however it means if there are 10 fully vaccinated people in a room together, there is a 40% chance that at least 1 person is not fully protected.

On March 9, 2021 the CDC released guidance that understanding the above mentioned risks, people who are fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks from receiving the complete vaccine series) can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.  The CDC also said that people who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  In public spaces, everyone should continue to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.  We should still avoid medium to large gatherings or gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household. Travel should still be limited and avoided when able. Some workplaces may still need stricter guidelines.

Getting vaccinated allows us to start to get back to some of the things we were doing 14 months ago, but there are still some risks involved and precautions in place. The more people that get vaccinated, the closer we will get to protecting our entire community. Please visit the CDC or Idaho public health websites for more information. You can also talk to your healthcare provider if you have specific questions about getting vaccinated.