Experts talk normalcy after second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It is the million-dollar question right now: after someone gets the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, can they live their life normally again?

The simple answer is — not just yet. Experts say until more Nevadans receive their second shot, everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, should keep practicing the basics when it comes to health and safety.

Henderson resident Stuart Timpa just got his second dose of the vaccine on Thursday. He says although the line at the Las Vegas Convention Center site was long, it was well worth it.

“It is a sense of relief,” Timpa said. “I definitely feel more protected against COVID.”

But he knows we are not quite out of the woods yet.

“We still have to remain vigilant and cautious and keep ourselves safe, as well as protecting everyone else,” Timpa stressed.

Brian Labus is an infectious disease epidemiologist and an assistant professor at the UNLV School of Public Health. He says it takes about two weeks for the second dose of the vaccine to fully kick in.

“It takes a couple weeks until your immune system has had a chance to produce the antibodies you need to protect yourself,” Labus explained.

But he adds that there is still a small chance people can get infected with the virus, even after getting vaccinated.

“It gives you good protection, but not complete protection,” Labus said. “It’s kind of like when you have airbags in your car, you still wear your seatbelt. You still have to go back and do those other things. Unfortunately, you can’t just give up on everything we’ve done in the past.”

That means mask wearing and social distancing are here to stay, at least for right now. 

Experts say about 70% of people need to be fully vaccinated in order to reach a sense of herd immunity. And with the vaccine rollout continuing to make progress, some are hopeful that will happen sooner rather than later.

“We are on track to be able to get to that point really by end of summer, beginning of fall,” said Dr. Christina Madison, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences. “For sure, I think we will be able to gather safely with each other for Thanksgiving and for Christmas.”

Until then, Timpa has one message for Nevadans:

“You have to keep your guard up. You can’t get relaxed.”

Experts add that in order to get back to normal faster, it will be crucial to convince people who are hesitant about the vaccine to get vaccinated.

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