OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. - As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, life can slowly begin to return to normalcy. This week, the CDC announced new recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated against the virus.
The guidance gives the green light to people who are fully vaccinated to visit other vaccinated people, or unvaccinated people from one household who are at low risk for severe disease, indoors without masks or social distancing. This is a big first step in allowing people to be safe in social settings. However, according to Mayo Clinic's Dr. Gregory Poland, there is no situation without some risk. There are also some limitations to these vaccinations. Doctors don't yet know how long the vaccines will offer protection. "As a healthcare worker, I've received both doses of one of the MRNA vaccines. Am I protected for 6 months, 12 months, 2 years? By definition, you would understand we don't know that yet. No one's been immunized for two years," he explains.
He elaborates that while vaccinated people may be able to move toward normalcy, returning to normal will be more like turning a dial, not a light switch. Dr. Poland also stresses that recommendations have not changed for medium to large gatherings or long-distance travel.
According to Mayo Clinic's Dr. Melanie Swift, Mayo is ready to vaccinate 50,000 people per week. However, the supply has not enabled them to ramp up that much. Supply continues to be a challenge for Mayo and Olmsted County Public Health. People working in food production and food manufacturing are now eligible for a shot. According to OCPH, they could easily vaccinate all people working in that sector in the county quickly if they had enough vaccines available. "Just from my perspective, our next priority area, we're looking at a couple thousand people and could have that done in a week if we got enough vaccine. My guess is it'll probably be a couple of weeks as we're getting enough vaccine in," says director Graham Briggs.