The Vaccine Is Here, But The Pandemic Isn't Over


The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 is welcome news after a year of strife. As of early April, about 18.5 percent of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated. While this is heartening, the nation is far from the estimated 70 percent inoculation rate required for herd immunity.

Because the evidence is not clear whether COVID-19 vaccinations impede infection and transmission of the condition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking all people in America to keep their guard (and masks) up. By wearing masks, socially distancing, and taking other precautionary measures, we can lessen the strain on the health system, and ultimately, save lives.

Below are scientifically based practices for protecting yourself and others during the pandemic.

Wear your mask and wear it right. Face coverings are one of our best defenses against this virus. However, they are only effective if worn properly. Ensure your mask fits snuggly, is breathable, and completely covers your nose and mouth. While KN95 masks are the “gold standard,” disposable surgical masks and multi-layered cloth coverings work as well. Masks should be worn whenever in public and if someone in your household is infected with COVID-19.

Socially distance yourself from the virus. COVID-19 spreads when an infected person launches droplets into the air (from either spitting, sneezing, or coughing) and those droplets are inhaled by other people. The key to stopping transmission: stay away from other people’s droplets. The CDC recommends staying at least six feet apart and minimizing contact with those outside your home. Be sure to research your state’s crowd-size restrictions and social distancing guidance, as they vary by locality.

Remember the three Hs: Hygiene, hygiene, and hygiene. Proper sanitization is integral to stopping the spread of viral infections. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before touching your face, preparing food, and/or eating. Also clean your hands after being outside the home, caring for a sick person, and/or touching pets. COVID-19 lives on surfaces, so disinfect frequently touched areas of the home (doorknobs, light switches, etc.).

Keep in mind that experts are learning more about the virus every day, and CDC guidance may be updated at any time. The vaccinations are underway, but we must remain vigilant.

Missouri State Health Department Website

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