- The pace of COVID vaccinations is picking up in the US, with the country now seeing about 1.26 million doses of coronavirus vaccine being administered each day on average.
- As this process continues, experts like White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci are warning, however, that people shouldn’t expect normal life to immediately resume after being vaccinated.
- Here’s why a warning against travel is still in place for those people, as well as encouragement to continue protection measures like wearing face masks.
As of the time of this writing on Friday afternoon, 27.3 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the US since the massive vaccination campaign began in mid-December. That’s according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, which also shows that the pace of COVID vaccinations in the US has picked up a bit — to an average of 1.26 million doses per day.
In my own state of Tennessee, according to the same vaccine tracker, 2% of the state’s population is now completely vaccinated against COVID-19, having received the full two-dose vaccine regimen at this point. Which is the kind of thing that’s going to increasingly make 2021, in a way, even weirder than 2020.
Last year, everyone was in the same boat. We all hunkered down together. Everyone was scared of this new virus. We all learned about it in real-time, and we all hoped that science could fast-track a mix of vaccines. Now we come to 2021 — a growing number of people have been fully vaccinated against the virus. But not everyone. And the ones who’ve been vaccinated, they’re still in the weird state of being told they can breathe easier, since the virus likely won’t infect them anymore — but experts like White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci are still cautioning those people to be patient. Even though you’ve been vaccinated, you can’t go back to normal life just yet.
One of the biggest examples of how this is the case involves travel. One of Dr. Fauci’s recent warnings he’s shared is that getting yourself vaccinated against COVID should not be construed as now having free license to travel wherever you want.
He said as much during a January 27 virtual town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explaining that “getting vaccinated does not mean now you have a free pass to travel, nor does it say you have a free pass to put aside all the public health measures that we talk about all of the time.”
For one thing, the vaccines take a bit of time to work and don’t confer a protective benefit on the recipient immediately. “You can get some degree of protection 10 days after the first dose, but you can’t rely on that,” Dr. Fauci said. “The maximum immunity begins about 10 days and beyond following the second dose. That goes for anyone, regardless of whether you want to travel or not.”
Meanwhile, scientists still don’t have conclusive data yet on the degree to which vaccinated people can still contract the virus and pass it on to other people without getting infected anymore themselves. Think of it like wearing gloves, with the gloves in this metaphor being tantamount to the protection of a vaccine. If you’re wearing gloves, your hands won’t get dirty, but can still get germs and particles and grime all over those gloves you’re wearing. And if you carelessly leave them around, or you come into contact with someone who takes those gloves off for you, the grime on those gloves can be passed on to someone else.
The caution against travel right now, though, is about even more than this. One of the reasons the US State Department this week warned Americans not to travel abroad right now is because of new COVID testing requirements that must be met in order to come back in to the US. And those requirements go for vaccinated people, too. You might travel somewhere where testing isn’t so easy to obtain, so you could end up being stuck there longer than you’d planned on.
“The Department of State is committed to helping US citizens overseas who find themselves in dire situations, but that assistance is likely to be limited,” Ian Brownlee, Bureau of Consular Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary at the State Department, said during a press briefing this week. “Our main message to US citizens considering travel abroad remains the same: Seriously reconsider going overseas right now. If you’re overseas right now, it’s going to be harder to come home for a while.”