Doctors say face masks, other public health measures will continue into at least spring

Posted at 5:47 AM, Dec 15, 2020

TAMPA — Medical experts say COVID-19 vaccine distribution and production are ramping up from different companies.

Once people in the community start getting vaccinated, we can eventually re-visit some pubic health measures.

Doctors say right now it makes the most sense to have public health measures stay in place throughout the winter and into the spring, especially as they start administering the Pfizer vaccine.

“It’s important to remember that the way the vaccine has been studied so far, is that it prevents symptomatic COVID. So that means that, once you get the vaccine, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get sick from COVID. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not going to spread COVID. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for that, that data just doesn’t exist yet,” said Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Tampa General Hospital.

He says that’s because it takes a lot longer for researchers to determine whether a vaccine can actually prevent the virus.

Experts say the reason we’ll still be wearing face masks for the next few months is because for a while there will still be people who haven’t been vaccinated, so there’s a potential to spread COVID-19.

Wilson says eventually we should get to a place where we can stop doing a lot of of these public health measures, but it’s going to take a while because a lot of people need to get vaccinated first.

Doctors are encouraging the public to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible once the vaccine is available to the community.

“We have really good data saying 'look if you get the vaccine you’re probably not going to have any symptoms of COVID' and we know in both the Moderna and the Pfizer study, no one got severely ill at all. Zero people in either study got severely ill with the vaccine from COVID,” said Wilson.

He says when the vast majority of the population is vaccinated, and no one is getting symptomatic COVID-19, including older people, that’s when we can worry less about wearing face masks.