Every day, more Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, offering them some immunity against the highly infectious virus responsible for the deaths of over 419,000 Americans. So, when will there be enough immunity in the country for life to start returning to normal? During Bishop T.D. Jakes's Conversations With America: Unpacking the COVID-19 Vaccine panel on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed the answer. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"Some Form of Normality" Will Take a While, Says Dr. Fauci
The good news? Life will go back to normalish. The bad? It is going to take awhile. "I believe we will get back to some form of normality, but that would be really dependent on the percentage of people in our society who get vaccinated," he revealed. Keep reading for his thoughts on that.
We Need 70 to 85% of the Population Vaccinated
So, when can public health measures start relaxing? "That's when you get a veil or a blanket of protection over society that we call herd immunity, namely so many people have vaccinated or have been previously infected that the virus doesn't have any place to go," he said. "It's looking for vulnerable people and they're not around because most people are protected. If we get 70 to 85% of the population vaccinated, then we could feel comfortable that we have probably very close to herd immunity. But until that time, we don't want people to get the impression that just because we are vaccinating people that we don't have to worry about public health measures, we have to continue to implement them until society is relatively free of this virus."
Herd Immunity Will Be Achieved Late Summer, Fauci Predicts
Fauci is confident that by "the mid to end of the summer" herd immunity will be achieved. "Because we're going to go through the priority vaccinations through January, February, or March, by the time we get to April, I would hope that it's like open season," he said. "Anybody can get the vaccine, whether you're in a priority group or not. And then if we vaccinate people through April, May, June, July, and August, I hope that by the time we get to the fall, if in fact what we're trying to accomplish here today is successful—namely getting people to be vaccinated, we can reach that 70 to 85% of the country by the fall and the end of the summer."
Masks Will Still Be Crucial, He Says, Even After You're Vaccinated
Dr. Fauci made it clear, however, that "normalish"—even after you have been vaccinated—might include wearing a mask.
"One wears a mask for two reasons. One, in case you are infected and have no symptoms, and don't even know you're infected that you would not then transmit it to someone else. Number two, there is also evidence that it could protect you from getting infected," he explained.
"So having said that when you get vaccinated, even though the vaccine may be 94 to 95% effective, there are two aspects of that, that you need to understand, A, you may be one of the people that is not protected. And B, we know that the vaccine prevents you from experiencing clinically appropriate clinically recognizable disease. We don't know yet whether it prevents you from getting infected in an asymptomatic way." In other words, you might not get sick, but could still carry the virus and spread it to others.
"That's the reason why we still want people to wear masks."
How to Stay Safe During COVID-19
Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.