With the rollout of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines across the country, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 are all dropping. As we enter this next phase of the pandemic, messaging is very important. NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Celine R. Gounder, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and advisory board member to the Biden transition team, over whether messaging right now should focus on hope or caution.
Dr. Gounder discusses the new mutant variants, which the vaccines are still effective against, but warns about the potential down the line for vaccine-resistant strains. She also emphasizes that the currently available vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death. The main reason to get a vaccine is to protect yourself and others, and to help life go back to normal. Still, caution is advised even after receiving the vaccine.
“If you’ve been vaccinated, can you hang out with other people who have been vaccinated and do so safely without a mask? Absolutely. If you’ve all been vaccinated, that you can do safely,” says Dr. Gounder. “I think where it becomes a little stickier is for those who have been vaccinated, they still do need to be careful when they’re around people who have not yet been.”
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