coronavirus pandemic

Experts Warn Public Not to Abandon Basic Public Health Measures, Even if Vaccinated

The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in our community is a turning point in the coronavirus pandemic, but experts say it doesn’t mean life will return to normal anytime soon.

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There is a great sense of relief for many San Diegans anxious to return to normalcy now that the COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out across our community. But we're not in the clear just yet. In fact, health experts say the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. 

“I would give anything to have my dad back,” said Alberto Zuniga.

Zuniga lost his father to COVID-19 on Sunday. 

“This is something nobody wants and you don't wish it on anyone,” said Zuniga.

That same day the county reported 33 new COVID-19-related deaths. In the last month, the county has reported a total of 747 deaths, which account for 39% of its 1,898 total deaths since the pandemic started. 

What is more concerning is that, according to Adriana Bearse with the San Diego Latino Health coalition, people are taking fewer precautions now that they know the vaccine is here. 

“With a lot of the excitement of the vaccine, people might be like ‘Oh great, now that the vaccine is here that means that it is finally the solution and we don't necessarily need to continue with these behaviors.”

She says it is especially true in our Latino communities. This is why the group has launched an educational campaign to make sure the community has the right information about the vaccine. 

“The vaccine is one part of the solution. It's one critical part, and health experts are very excited that the vaccine is starting to be distributed, but in order to be really effective is for it to be distributed to enough people in the population,” said Zuniga.

And precautions need to continue after vaccination. 

“You will continue to wear your mask and you will not get a passport to travel wherever you want,” said Dr. Edward Cachay, infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego.

According to Dr. Cachay, the vaccine can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days after the second dose to give the patient maximum immunity. And there are still unknowns. 

“What we don’t know yet is whether people who are vaccinated cannot subclinically infect others, so this is the reason why we need to continue wearing masks,” said Dr. Cachay.

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