PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Now that Pennsylvania is open to vaccinating anyone age 16 and older, the idea of herd immunity is no longer a distant hope. But there is still a long way to go.
CBS News Medical Expert Dr. David Agus from the USC Keck School of Medicine says vaccine success is revealing itself.
“We’re seeing in Israel in parts of the United Kingdom, where they really saturate with vaccines, viruses are going to near zero, hospitalizations going to single digits. It’s remarkable how well this is working and how safe these vaccines are. We need to implement this across the United States.”
Everyday, millions more people move into the sigh of relief column as they get their shots.
“If you’ve been vaccinated, fully vaccinated. Two weeks after your shot, your last shot. And you’re exposed to somebody with the virus, 70% of people approximately won’t get anything at all. 30% will have a low level of virus — much lower than if you hadn’t been vaccinated.”
But Dr. Agus worries that lifting precautions prematurely is proving dangerous.
“It’s scary, I mean because these new variants are much more infectious and easier to spread and people who were so close to the end of the tunnel, but still in the tunnel, are getting sick and they really didn’t need to be if we could have held off behavior change for another month or two.”
With vaccine open season just about everywhere, Dr. Agus expects to see pressure ramp up on those who may be hesitant or resistant to get the shot.
“In our country, we’re going to have differential privileges depending on vaccine status and that’s unique to our country. Right, if you’re a restaurant you say hey if you’re vaccinated, you can sit indoors, but if you’re not vaccinated, you have to sit outdoors.”
While no one can be compelled to get a vaccine, Dr. Agus says, society can segregate the vaccinated and “it’s a policy issue, and as social issue, we’re going to have to discuss more and more because it’s going to happen. It is happening across the country.”
And its contentious, “There’s no question it’s contentious, and people get very very emotional, it is my right to not get vaccinated, there’s no question about it, it is your right to not get vaccinated, but then you don’t have a right to go to a public place, and take a mask off where you could potentially spread a virus to somebody else.”
Dr. Agus says, “We have to get away from the politics and go back to the fact that we have to care for our neighbor, and we can endanger them by potentially spreading the virus.”
But he is optimistic whatever the new normal will be is achievable by midsummer.