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Doctor says by end of 2021 'hopefully' enough people will be vaccinated for life to return to normal

Dr. Mobeen Rathore said that timeline is based on how long it will take most of the public to get vaccinated and to get to herd immunity.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A doctor on the First Coast is warning while hope is here with a COVID-19 vaccine, we can't let our guard down.

"2020 has been mostly a year with lots of bad news," Dr. Mobeen Rathore, Chair of Infection Prevention for Baptist Health, said. "Fortunately, there’s some good news now that we have a vaccine and we can finally turn the corner and bring an end to this terrible pandemic."

It's a line we've heard a lot this year: 2020 hasn't been the best year to say the least. Things won't be back to normal at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2021, however, Rathore said.

"Things will get better, but hopefully, you know, by this year next time we will have enough people immunized in the United States that we can say, 'ok now we can go back to how we were in terms of normality of our lives in 2019,'” Rathore said. "We are all tired. I am tired. We have been patient for such a long time. It is very important to be patient and follow all the protective measures for a little bit longer."

Rathore said that the timeline is based on how long it will take most of the population to get vaccinated. 

”The health impact will take time. We have to immunize a certain number of people so then they’re protected. Then you’ll start seeing the impact," he said.

"And to get the real impact you get to herd immunity, and for most other vaccines we know you have to get to 90 to 95 percent of the population to be immunized and protected against the disease and infection before you can say that everybody is protected," Rathore said. "I think at this point in time all we can say is we are getting there. Once we have 90 to 95 percent of the people protected, then we can say yes we have some herd immunity and we can take a sigh of relief."

Rathore said the hope surrounding the vaccine shouldn't translate into letting your guard down. 

"Follow all of the smart protective measures, face masks, social distancing, smart isolation. We need to continue to do those things otherwise I think many people will get infected because they have this false sense of security because, just because a few people have gotten the vaccine everything is safe now. It is not right now. It will be, but not right now," he said. "So, we need to continue to use our good judgment and be careful," Rathore said. 

There's one other important note Rathore wanted the public to hear. 

"Here's the bottom line: The vaccine prevents you from getting the disease, which means that you will not get sick. It does not prevent you from getting [an] infection, which means you can still get infected and give it to others," Rathore said.

He said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine studies looked at the presence of disease, if participants got sick, not the presence of infection. This means scientists aren't sure if even if you're vaccinated you won't get infected. This is another reason, Rathore said, to not let your guard down.

    

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