Local healthcare providers are reminding the public they could still be at risk of spreading the virus even after receiving a vaccine against COVID-19.
“This is why we're saying, stick to the three W's – wash your hands, watch your distance and wear a mask – because we don't know for certain yet that the vaccine will prevent us from transmitting the virus," said Sandy Rennick, public health nurse with the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU).
"Until we do know, we need to be cautious and attack this from every angle,” she added.
As more of the local population receives the COVID-19 vaccine, public health officials are reminding the public that the vaccine is an additional way to protect yourself but public safety measures should still be adhered to in order to help protect others in the community.
“When you're exposed to COVID, your body is going to be breaking COVID down really quickly and giving you that immunity that protects you against being sick,” Rennick explained. “But while that's happening, that virus is shedding to other people.”
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus. And that, vaccinated people could potentially still get COVID-19 and spread it to others.
Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for the GBHU said the vaccine is highly effective in preventing individuals from getting sick and, he believes it is also effective in reducing the transmission to others, however data collection on transmission prevention is currently in its infancy.
“I see no reason why these vaccines would not prevent transmission. We just don't have that data yet,” Arra said.
After either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, public health officials are asking individuals to continue to follow COVID-19 measures, such as wearing a mask, practising physical distancing and regular hand washing, as well as continuing to monitor for symptoms.
More information on the COVID-19 vaccine is available on the GBHU website.