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IU Expert Says To Maintain COVID Prevention Practices Even After Getting Vaccine

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are readied for use.

(Indiana University Health)

The slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across the nation has been frustrating for those longing for an end to a pandemic that has been raging for the past year.

In Indiana, wait times to get the vaccine can be up to a month, and the state is still vaccinating only health care workers, first responders and those 70 and older.

Even with the promised influx of more doses on the horizon, Dr. Lana Dbeibo, the director of vaccine initiatives for IU’s COVID-19 Medical Response Team, says it will be months before enough people can be vaccinated to reach a herd immunity.

“The faster we can do this, the better we are off as a country, so that we can start our  trajectory or journey back to normal,” Dbeibo said.

Dbeibo, who is also the Director of Infection Prevention at Methodist Hospital, said that although the vaccines have shown to be 95% effective, they don’t reach that level of protection until two weeks after the second shot.

So, while you may be partially protected after the first dose and even more so after the second, you still need to follow the CDC guidelines of using preventative measure against the virus — wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

“I'm more than two weeks out of my second dose, and I continue to do the same — work from home, social distance and where a mask,” Dbeibo said. “And I would encourage people not to think of it as OK, well, the vaccine didn't change anything, it actually does. It makes me personally not susceptible to getting severely ill. And that is a huge step forward.”

The next step in the state’s immunization plan is for those 65 and older to be eligible to get the vaccine.

“We are protecting the most vulnerable people who are dying. They will never get a second chance at this. So, I really appreciate that approach,” Dbeibo said. “As we address all the ages that are high risk and the vulnerable population, it might make sense to start working on those who are essential to our work infrastructure.”

Dbeibo says getting everyone on board with getting the vaccine is critical to reaching a herd immunity, which would allow a return to a semblance of normalcy.

“I think every institution and every health department and all of us are working on, you know, addressing those concerns of hesitancy, because we do understand that many of them are based in real fears,” Dbeibo said. “But we just need to address them scientifically.”

And while Dbeibo says with the vaccine there is light at the end of the tunnel, now is not the time to relax in the fight against COVID-19.

“It is more important now to practice those because we have new variants and new mutants are risky, that have higher transmission rates," she said. "And when we see higher transmission, we know that it’s always followed by higher deaths.”

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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