Health experts have a reminder as nearly 260,000 Connecticut residents get COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re not going to be able to let up on mask wearing or physical distancing until we have somewhere between 70 to 80% of our population vaccinated,” said Summer McGee, dean of University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences.
While both vaccines are more than 90% effective, researchers are still studying if people with the vaccine can spread the virus.
“I think it’s going to take a few more months of having wide spread vaccination in our general population to really begin to see how many people have had exposures and where we’re seeing transmission in a vaccinated population,” said McGee.
It will be a crucial next few months. McGee says the more the virus spreads, the more opportunity for mutations. So, the masks and social distancing are important for everyone.
“If we can get to a place where we are not seeing community spread we can begin to return to those more normal activities,” said McGee.
Yale University’s director of the Institute for Global Health says ramping up mass vaccinations is part of beating the virus, but it needs to be strategic, and include Black and brown communities.
He says the plans should focus on access through the lens of mobility and include the needs of seniors and those who live in cities.
“It is accessible through public transportation. If you’re doing drive by vaccination, people need cars. You don’t go to a drive-in cinema on bus,” said Dr. Saad Omer. “If we as a country get out of this, we get out of this together.”
In New Haven, community health centers offer vaccines for easier access, and several Yale New Haven Health sites are opening this week. And soon, Omer says there could be 60 million doses in production each month.
He adds the immediate benefits of the vaccine will most likely be seen in curbing the death rate. As more seniors get vaccinated the number may drop. But he says we’ll need many more people vaccinated before we see a decrease overall in cases.