[COLUMN] Being fully vaccinated ushers us back faster and safely toward the ‘normal’ life we have been missing because of COVID-19

IF you have been fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask outdoors when you take a walk, go to the park, enjoy picnics and barbecues with family and friends, bike or eat outside at restaurants, as long you are not with a big crowd.

This is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday, April 27, based on accumulated data and scientific studies.

The author receives her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine | Contributed photo

The news came on the day I got the second dose of my Pfizer vaccine. I am now fully vaccinated and I am just grateful many Americans have been fulfilling their patriotic duty to use all possible tools and comply with safety measures for us to reach this point, after being the hotspot of coronavirus infections in the whole world last year.

Another encouraging news item is the statement given by the leader of the European Union: “American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to visit the European Union over the summer, more than a year after shutting down nonessential travel from most countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus,” the New York Times reported.

“The fast pace of vaccination in the United States, and advanced talks between authorities there and the European Union over how to make vaccine certificates acceptable as proof of immunity for visitors, will enable the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to recommend a switch in policy that could see trans-Atlantic leisure travel restored,” it added.

President Joe Biden talked to the American people in the North Lawn of the White House saying, “ I…want to thank everyone who has gotten the vaccine for doing your patriotic duty and helping us get on the path to Independence Day.”

In early spring, Biden set the goal post for Americans to be able to celebrate the traditional Fourth of July picnic and barbecue with close family and friends, not only to celebrate the Independence Day of the United States, but also to celebrate our milestone in this long war against COVID-19.

Biden then urged us the American people to work together to mitigate the spread of the virus, then to contain the virus, and finally defeating the virus so we all can safely go back to living our normal life and start the journey toward rebuilding our lives and our nation.

We are on track to win this war against our invisible enemy because we are all doing our own share, sacrificing despite inconveniences and giving up a little of our liberties for the greater good during this wartime.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited several factors motivating the changed guidance as reported by the Washington Post: “Falling coronavirus case rates and climbing vaccinations (more than 37% of those over 18 are fully protected) make outdoor settings safer than before. Indoor settings have an almost 20-fold increased risk of transmission compared to outdoor ones.”

“If more people continue getting inoculated and cases drop further, she said, the CDC will release additional guidance for the fully vaccinated,” the Post added.

Looking at success stories in other countries that have defeated the virus, Walensky is optimistic that IF the United States follows measures taken by other countries where “vaccinations continue to soar and the cases plummet, we should be in good shape.”

The Biden administration has worked hard to expedite the manufacturing of vaccines and all Americans, 16 and above are now eligible to be vaccinated. Along with this, we see a downward trend in confirmed cases, death and hospitalization, saving lives especially among the most vulnerable people in our country. But the work isn’t finished yet.

“Do not let up now, keep following the guidance and go get vaccinated now,” President Biden urged the American people.

CDC reports on what fully vaccinated CAN now do:

Fully vaccinated people can:

• Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing

• Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing

• Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues

• Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel

• Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States

• Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings

• Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic

• Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

• Take precautions in indoor public settings like wearing a well-fitted mask

• Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease

• Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people from multiple households

• Avoid indoor large-sized in-person gatherings

• Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

• Follow guidance issued by individual employers

• Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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