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Vaccines en-route — so what does it mean for us?

When I started writing for Black Press Media, the pandemic had just started to seep into everyday life and things, events, places were closing down. I remember researching about Burns Lake and Lakes District before moving and I was so excited to be able to witness the very different life through the variety of events from the Snow and Shine to the Fall fair and everything in between. However, by the time I came to B.C. the pandemic had managed to reach the remote regions of the province and life as it was before had turned upside down.

Last week, as I wrote about the vaccines coming to Burns Lake, it suddenly brought everything back and gave me hope. After almost 11 months of struggle, fear and panic, there is finally hope around the corner for the world to be as it was before.

But those who know me well, know that I research everything to death be it a trip route or a vaccine. So I tried to get my hands on every FAQ out there and any and every expert report I could find, on what it will mean to be vaccinated for the one who receives the immunization and for those around.

The one big outcome of all of this research was finding out that no matter whether you get a vaccine or not, we all will still have to wear masks and continue with the social distancing, following provincial and HealthCanada guidelines, at least for a while.

Why, you ask?

The way these COVID-19 vaccines will work is that they will take a little while to get to their maximum effectiveness. Now as per the study titled “Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine”, that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine about the vaccines, effectiveness of the vaccines will take time to build up over time. The study talks about the Pfizer vaccine which requires people to get two shots, the vaccine reaches 52 per cent effectiveness a few weeks after it is administered and it doesn’t even start working to protect our bodies until 12 days after the first shot. Upon taking the second shot a week later, the vaccine’s effectiveness shoots up to 95 per cent.

Similarly when Moderna applied for its FDA approval, it showed almost 51 per cent effectiveness after first two weeks and 94 per cent after its second dose.

The fact that the vaccines are not a 100 per cent effective means that one in 20 people who get this vaccine could still be affected by the virus.

Moreover, the health authorities and the vaccine makers are still studying the virus and about the vaccines. How the vaccines would affect asymptomatic folks, whether those vaccinated would still be able to pass on the virus to others, how long the vaccine immunity would last are some questions that are still being researched upon by these experts.

The point of all this is that yes, we must be grateful and rejoice that the vaccines were created in such a short span of time, received emergency authorizations, are so incredibly effective (yes, 94-95 per cent is quite incredible) and are finally arriving at our doorsteps, but that doesn’t mean we should be lax in our attitude towards the measures put in place by the authorities.

We still need to follow all the rules and guidelines set by our health authorities, still need to quarantine when asked to, still need to wear masks whether we have received immunization or not and we need to continue all of this until it is safe for everyone, not just us.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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