COVID-19 vaccine offers protection but masks and physical distance still advised to socialize

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The COVID-19 vaccine represents a light at the end of the tunnel for many, and doctors said it is a step towards getting back to normal, but COVID-19 safety measures like masks still apply.

Doctor Shilpa Patel is a pediatrician and Physician Liaison at Hawaii Pacific Health. She said people who got the vaccine have more protection against the virus. But the shot is an addition to current best practices against COVID-19, such as face masks and physical distance.

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The pandemic has kept loved ones apart for almost a year now, and distancing from others is one of the best defenses against the coronavirus. Patel said the vaccine is working in the background to protect people from the virus and it should allow some more freedom to see family.

“It takes about two weeks after the second vaccine to be fully vaccinated,” Patel said. “After that time, people who haven’t been leaving their homes, especially our kupuna, should feel freer going to restaurants. Going outside, seeing family, seeing their children and their grandchildren.”  

Dr. Patel said social activities are safer with the shot if people continue to wear masks and keep social distancing.

Patel said, “My personal thoughts about travel are, being fully vaccinated, understanding how to wear a mask safely. And understanding social distancing rules should allow us to travel more freely.”

For those working in the community, such as classroom settings, being vaccinated may bring some peace of mind.

Shalini Solomon is a board-certified behavior analyst working with students on Oahu. She said she got the vaccine to feel safer being around others.

“I go to the elementary, middle and high school,” Solomon said. “So since I’m kind of a little bit of a traveler in that sense, I want to be sure that I’m keeping myself safe and those around me.”  

The state’s health department said as of Monday, Feb. 22, 13.6% of Hawaii’s population had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Last week, more than 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were delayed due to bad weather on the mainland. Those doses are set to arrive this week, along with the scheduled allotment.

Dr. Patel said as more research is done on the vaccine the more they will learn about its efficacy.

“Right now, the CDC is saying that the studied efficacy of the vaccine is only three months,” Patel said. “But that’s only because they’ve only studied it for three months. And as time moves on, they may extend the timeline on that.”

The vaccine has been shown to reduce severe illness from COVID-19 but it does not guarantee the transmission of the virus to others.

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