Two Shots, Two Weeks, Then What?

by Kevin Burton

   Yeah, OK, so now what?

   A growing portion of the world population has received a vaccine to combat the Covid-19.  But this is no happy ending. In fact, it’s no ending at all.

   In March of last year in response to the virus, the global scientific community began what the Atlantic Monthly called “the biggest pivot in the history of modern science.”

   “Thousands of researchers dropped whatever intellectual puzzles had previously consumed their curiosity and began working on the pandemic instead. In mere months, science became thoroughly COVID-ized,” wrote Ed Yong in the Atlantic. 

   And it wasn’t just science, it was everything. The whole world was, is, Covidized.

   The crisis is all too real. But it would have made for a perfect novel.  It is a worldwide crisis.  There was a scramble to gain knowledge. You had thousands of researchers fighting to save lives. You had ignorant people denying the seriousness of the virus. As the death toll skyrocketed, you had people peddling worthless medicines for financial gain. 

   You had hoarding of what became scarce goods, including most hilariously, toilet paper.  High drama mixed with farce.

   You have the virus mutating, because that’s what viruses do. And, you have a vaccine that is not quite a cure. So there it is, a built-in sequel.

   I think most people know and understand the “not quite a cure” part, but just in case, here’s this from a story on the website of The Wichita Eagle.

   “The Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease,” wrote Jason Tidd in the Eagle, “but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a small percentage of ‘vaccine breakthrough cases’ are expected, where people who are fully vaccinated get infected after exposure to the virus.” 

   This brief explanation, by the way, was from a story about an unvaccinated staff member causing a Covid outbreak at a Wichita nursing home.

   So you may want to factor all that in as you answer your personal post-vaccine “now what” question. I will, for sure.

   Just as sure as video killed the radio star, Covid-19 killed the old world. We are dragging with some difficulty, some treasured customs from the old world into the new. But the old world is gone for good.

  That’s what I think anyway. 

   So for the people who have gotten that second injection and counted those fourteen days, what is safe?

   Korin Miller weighs in on this, writing on yahoo.com. Excerpts:

   On travel: “The CDC says you’re Ok to travel, both in the country and internationally, but there are some caveats. ‘You want to take all the precautions, including wearing masks and doing your best to do social distancing,’ said Dr. Timothy Murphy, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

   The article states that air travel is low-risk, “because everyone will be masked.”  I don’t believe that for a second.

   On going to a hairdresser: “The risk from getting a haircut seems low as long as everyone is wearing a mask,” says. Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease specialist and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University.

   On dining indoors at a restaurant: “This, Murphy says, ‘is a judgment call,’ and a lot depends on how the restaurant is handling Covid-19 precautions.

   “Certainly when the place is paying attention to distancing and if you’re masking when you’re not at the table, it’s reasonable to say that it’s OK to dine indoors,” Murphy says. His suggestion: ‘Just mask up when you’re not eating.’

   On wearing a mask in public:  “The CDC still recommends wearing a mask when you’re out in public and gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household.”

   On hugging people: It depends. “If you’re hugging other people who are vaccinated, go right ahead,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “But with family members who are unvaccinated, I would still do that with some degree of caution.” Schaffner recommends giving those people a “quick” hug. Also, keep in mind that unvaccinated people might be a little nervous about hugging for now.

   On going to bars: “By all means, avoid bars,” Schaffner says.  “They are real superspreader events.”

   “I would definitely avoid bars,” agrees Watkins. “The danger is that you’re taking your mask off.”

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