Even though it feels like the COVID-19 pandemic is over, it is not. Sure, infection rates have slowed down enough to relax rules on masking and proof-of-vaccines. The prospect of visiting friends and neighbors or going out for a meal without restrictions is exciting, but it is still necessary to practice caution.
Health organization leaders continue to stress the importance of everyone being vaccinated:
- Vaccines encourage the body’s immune system to create antibodies necessary to fight off the virus as though the body was exposed to the disease or virus.
- Virus variation has been the biggest challenge to controlling the COVID-19, but the best tool available is the vaccine.
Another reason vaccines remain essential is to protect against variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. It is natural to expect new strains since viruses constantly evolve to adapt to current environments, so scientists do not immediately know the current vaccination or dosage effectiveness against a new variant or strain.
Since immunity wanes, fully vaccinated individuals and those who have had COVID-19 can become infected, get sick, and spread the virus to others, health experts suggest paying attention to the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC) recommendations.
The CDC continues to suggest vaccines for everyone with the goal of the pandemic evolving into endemic. However, when most Americans are vaccinated, the virus will be manageable.
Johns Hopkins virologist Andrew Pekosz explains:
If you’ve gotten the full course of mRNA vaccine, you’ve got pretty good protection against…variants. And that’s just one more piece of data to encourage people to go and get vaccinated.
Researchers continue to investigate why some coronaviruses — flu, common cold, COVID — are easier to contain than others. In addition, they are working hard to create a post-pandemic yearly booster similar to the annual influenza vaccines so Americans can enjoy life much as they did before COVID-19 disrupted lives a little over two years ago.
Everyone in the United States ages 5 and up is eligible for free vaccines, boosters, and COVID testing regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CDC: What You Need to Know About Variants
CDC: SARS-CoV-2 Variant Classifications and Definitions
Johns Hopkins University: HOW VIRUSES MUTATE AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT; by Saralyn Cruickshank
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Drew Leavy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of UNICEF Ethiopia’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License