Vaccination Rates Are Up and Death Rates Are Down, But Masking, Distancing and Cleaning Your Hands Remain Essential to Stop the Spread
Vermont Business Magazine One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and as vaccination rates rise in our communities, the University of Vermont Health Network urges everyone to continue practicing the proven simple measures that help to stop the spread of COVID-19 to keep our family, friends and neighbors healthy.
“Vermont, Northern New York and the nation are making steady progress in this unprecedented COVID-19 vaccination effort,” said John Brumsted, MD, president and CEO of the UVM Health Network. “However, it is critical that we look out for each other so we can end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. Practicing public health precautions is the best way to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”
Vaccine eligibility is constantly expanding in both Vermont and New York. You can find the most up-to-date information here.
The UVM Health Network is among the many institutions now working vigorously to distribute available vaccines in accordance with state guidelines in Vermont and New York. Research on the three COVID-19 vaccines now in use shows that vaccines make symptomatic disease less likely and greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. However, scientists are still researching how well the vaccines prevent asymptomatic transmission and how well they work against the new variants.
For the health and safety of yourself and others, it is important to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when you are eligible, according to state guidelines.
The CDC has issued new guidance for those who are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after a person has received the second dose of two-dose vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, or two weeks after they have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the CDC, anyone in the community who is fully vaccinated, can:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in public, like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing. Importantly, in higher-risk settings like health care facilities where transmission to vulnerable patients remains a major concern, fully vaccinated health care workers should still follow pre-existing infection control guidelines, including physical distancing in breakrooms and avoiding unmasked interactions with people from other households.
To keep us safe and stop the spread, it is important to keep practicing the behaviors that we know work:
- Wear a mask
- Distance yourself from others
- Clean your hands frequently
Especially with the new variants in circulation, practicing safe behaviors along with adhering to the guidelines in place for Vermont and New York can help us protect ourselves and each other.
Using masks correctly is a critical component of protecting our communities. It’s important to know that not all masks provide the same protection. People should choose a mask that fits well, filters air properly and has enough layers to provide protection. According to the CDC, people should:
- Use a mask that has a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask. A mask fitter or brace over a disposable mask or a cloth mask can help prevent air from leaking around the edges.
- Choose a mask that fits snugly over your nose, mouth and chin. Air will flow through the front of a well-fitting mask and you may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.
- Use a mask with at least three layers. Layering a cloth mask over a surgical mask may provide even more protection.
“Getting everybody vaccinated while we all still wear masks really gives me hope we can get back to normal life soon,” said Dr. Tim Lahey, MD, MMSc, an infectious disease physician at UVM Medical Center. “When I’m feeling impatient about mask wearing and other safety measures, I think about how great it will be to visit with family or hang out with friends in a restaurant and that helps me get through.”
Keep Your Distance
To avoid spreading infection, remember to avoid unmasked indoor gatherings with people outside your household. Social distancing should be practiced in combination with the other everyday preventive actions.
COVID-19 spreads much more readily indoors when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of others nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs. We know people who are infected, but do not have symptoms, can spread COVID-19. That’s why it is important to wear a mask around people outside of your household, especially indoors, even if you – or they – do not have any symptoms.
Keep Your Hands Clean
Remember to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Be sure to cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry when using sanitizer.
About The University of Vermont Health Network
The University of Vermont Health Network is an integrated system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives.
The partners are:
- The University of Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network Medical Group
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Porter Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Home Health & Hospice
Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high-quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our affiliates remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.
Source: Burlington, 3.12.2021. The University of Vermont Medical Center. UVMHealth.org/MedCenter