Vaccination doesn’t mean a return to pre-COVID-19 lifestyle, Manitoba health official says

With hundreds of thousands of Manitobans already given at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, health officials are warning those who’ve been jabbed not to expect a return to their pre-pandemic lives just yet.

Dr. Joss Reimer, lead of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force, says until the province reaches a level where most people are immune, everyone needs to continue to follow public health orders, regardless of whether or not they’ve been inoculated.

Read more: Manitoba reports 261 new COVID-19 cases, premier rejects call for near lockdown

“The message right now to Manitobans is that you should continue with all of the public health measures and recommendations, regardless of vaccine status, because we know that the vaccine won’t work on everybody,” Reimer said this week.

“It does work in real-world studies in 80 per cent of people, but who the additional 20 per cent are is not something that we can predict.

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“So until we have a level of immunization in the population where there’s just that much less ability for the virus to circulate … we still ask everybody, regardless of whether it’s the day after your vaccine or a month after your vaccine, to continue following the fundamentals.”

That means keeping contacts low, staying home when you’re sick and practising social distancing, even after getting the shot, Reimer said.

Reimer also stresses that those who’ve gotten any of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines need to be exceedingly cautious for at least two weeks after getting their shot because it can take that long for immunity to build up in the body.

Read more: What you can and can’t do once you’ve received your 1st COVID-19 vaccine dose

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“So any exposures that happen right before, or in the two weeks after immunization, that vaccine is probably not going to provide any protection to those individuals,” she explained.

“But the messaging right now is even after the two weeks to keep following the fundamentals until enough of the population is covered.”

As of Thursday morning, provincial data shows 378,914 Manitobans have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, or roughly 28 per cent of the eligible population.

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Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Cory Baillie told 680 CJOB this week that the province needs a sizable portion of its population — some 70 to 75 per cent — to get the shot in order for herd immunity to be achieved. But that number includes Mantiobans under 18, who currently aren’t eligible for the shot.

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Baillie says that’s why it’s so important everyone who is eligible to get the shot now, does.

Read more: Vaccine hesitancy could affect Manitoba achieving herd immunity, survey says

“Vaccines are a way to get out of the pandemic,” she said.

“It protects yourself, it protects your friend and loved ones. Manitobans should be vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible. All the vaccines are safe.”

–With files from Sam Thompson

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