By Zeke Tweedie
As everyone surely already knows by now, Dr. Anthony Fauci made headlines the other day, when he called a press conference in order to say that “every member of the staff of the paper at Fordham University is the most essential worker in the entire country, and I would like to personally fly each one of them to DC and vaccinate them myself!” Badabing badaboom, and we’re vaxxed! Well, maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that, but with vaccine rollouts speeding up every day, all across the country, more and more people, including myself, have been able to get their shots, and even though most students aren’t eligible yet, President Biden has officially asked that all states amend their rollout plans so as to make every adult eligible by May 1st, and experts believe that every adult can be vaccinated by the end of the summer.
So what does that mean? Ever since the first vaccines were first administered in early December, the quickly growing population of inoculated Americans has been wondering what has changed, and until March 9th, the Center for Disease Control, the leading force for public education during the COVID-19 pandemic, had been silent. After several delays and broken promises from the CDC, people had become frustrated. Though many people blamed the delay on bureaucratic hold-ups, the CDC maintained that they were trying to put their guidelines through the most rigorous testing possible, in order to ensure their safety. Given the novelty of the new vaccines, and the continuing unknowns surrounding the virus itself, the development of the new rules had to be done without the solid scientific evidence usually necessary for the process. Nevertheless, the new guidelines are here. So what do they say?
Who is considered “fully vaccinated?”
Though getting the shot is the exciting part, the first thing to know once you’ve gotten it (either the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, like Pfizer’s or Moderna’s, or the single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) is that you are not considered “fully vaccinated” until two weeks afterwards. Each vaccine needs time to take effect in your body, and until you are two weeks post-shot, the CDC says to consider yourself vulnerable, and follow guidance as before.
Once I’m vaccinated, am I completely immune?
No. Though each vaccine has proven itself to be extremely effective in preventing serious illnesses, it is still possible to both catch and spread the virus. It is especially careful to not become too complacent once you have been vaccinated; though the virus cannot infect you as well, the lack of symptoms may mean that you infect people without knowing.
Does this mean I can see my friends again?
Probably! This is the biggest change that comes with the vaccine. The CDC says that vaccinated people can now gather together in small groups, without masks. Once you have been vaccinated, they even say that you can visit with unvaccinated people, maskless, though they ask that vaccinated people only maintain contact with one household of unvaccinated people at one time. However, people who are considered to be at a higher risk for severe illness still need to be careful if they have not been vaccinated. If you have been vaccinated, but one of your friends or family is considered to be of increased risk, it is still advised that you maintain distance when seeing them, and continue to wear your mask around them.
What about concerts? Please tell me concerts are coming back.
Bad news here. As of now large group events are still strongly advised against. Once more and more people can become vaccinated, larger events will begin to return, but as of now, the virus has simply spread too much. Public interactions are still very risky, so the CDC asks that we continue to avoid medium and large groups. And remember, you can still spread the virus once you have been vaccinated. This means that public places like grocery stores or restaurants are still places where you should remember to socially distance, and wear your mask at all times.
Is it still necessary to track exposure and isolate?
Let’s face it. Fordham students are the last people who need to be told how miserable self-isolation can be. That makes this bit of news maybe the most sweet, especially for those who spent two weeks starving in their university-assigned quarantine locations. Once you have been vaccinated, exposure becomes much less of a problem. The CDC says that now, if you have been vaccinated and are exposed to COVID-19, not only is the two-week isolation no longer needed, but if you have no symptoms, then getting tested is unnecessary as well. This development hopes to be a big step in getting people back to normal, as now contact tracing will not sideline as many healthy people.