Tri-State doctors and educators weigh in on updated CDC guidelines, vaccines

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INDIANA (WEHT) – Many people may soon be able to gather around friends and family without a mask.  

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.

The CDC says people who are vaccinated can not only drop the masks, but also sit a little closer to each other.

“We finally have some good news I think to share with everyone,” said Deaconess Hospitalist Dr. Phillip Adams. “The CDC is acknowledging these vaccines have been able to help us do that and I think it’s fantastic for all of us.”

That new guidance is for anyone who is two weeks out after their second dose. According to the CDC, those individuals can safely gather around friends or family who are also vaccinated – without masks or social distancing.

Doctors say that the two week window following the second shot is critical. 

“That extra two weeks for your body to build immunity and get that strong response is what’s going to prevent you from getting sick if you are exposed,” said Dr. Adams. “The initial dose of the vaccine does provide some immunity, but it’s not nearly as effective as that second dose, that second dose especially using the Pfizer and Moderna data is putting that into the middle 90’s in terms of effectiveness.” 

With more vaccine availability, there’s a push to get the shot to more teachers as soon as possible.

“They are in a situation where they are in enclosed buildings with 20 to 30 students and probably not the best ventilation you could have,” said Evansville Teachers Association Michael Rust. 

Rust says there was initial confusion and blurred lines as to when teachers could get vaccinated, but a new vaccine clinic at Meijer will change that. 

The grocery store chain says they plan on administering 10,000 doses to teachers across the Hoosier State. Rust says that’s a move that’s long overdue. 

“We understand that the elderly need to be vaccinated also and we were just trying to find out when it is going to be our time and why we are not going to be prioritized in some way or another,” Rust said. 

The vaccine clinics conducted by Meijer are not open to walk-ups. Participants must register through the retailer’s online system in order to be scheduled for a vaccine. For non-teacher and school staff, patients can text COVID to 75049, go online at clinic.meijer.com or simply visit their local Meijer pharmacy and ask to register.

(This story was originally published on March 8, 2021)

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