Unvaccinated Shouldn't Rely on General COVID-19 Protection

Carolyn Crist

May 26, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

People who haven't received a COVID-19 vaccine shouldn't rely on general protection from those who have been inoculated, according to CNN.

Although the U.S. is hitting major vaccination milestones and COVID-19 cases are dropping, those who aren't vaccinated still face high infection risks, medical experts told the news outlet.

"The work ahead of us is going to be really challenging because while the people who are fully vaccinated are well protected, we still have to keep on convincing individuals who are not yet vaccinated that they are not safe," Leana Wen, MD, an emergency physician and CNN medical analyst, said this week.

The risk for unvaccinated people is about the same as it was in the middle of the U.S. surge in January, she added.

"The pandemic is not over for them," she said.

Half of the U.S. adult population is fully vaccinated, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Tuesday. About 62% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose.

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, public health officials are voicing concerns about potential coronavirus spread among unvaccinated people as Americans travel or gather with others.

"Thanks to vaccines, tens of millions of Americans are able to get back to something closer to normal — visiting friends and family," Rochelle Walensky, MD, the CDC director, said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team news briefing on Tuesday.

However, those who are not vaccinated still need to follow CDC guidance, she said. Unvaccinated people should continue to follow social distancing guidelines and wear face masks.

"If you are not vaccinated, I want to encourage you to take this holiday weekend to give yourself and your family the gift of protection by getting vaccinated," she said. "We are on a good downward path, but we are not quite out of the woods yet."

Walensky reported that the U.S. has a 7-day average of about 23,000 COVID-19 cases per day, which is a decrease of about 25% from the previous average. It also represents 7 consecutive days with a seven-day average below 30,000 cases per day. The 7-day average of COVID-19 deaths has also dropped to about 500 per day.

COVID-19 cases have increased after holiday weekends in the past, Walensky added. Those who haven't received a COVID-19 vaccine should be cautious about traveling, hosting visitors and meeting indoors, according to Peninsula Daily News in Washington.

"In order to count as an 'outdoor gathering,' you have to stay outdoors the whole time," Allison Berry, MD, the health officer for Clallam County, told the newspaper.

"COVID-19 is primarily spread among people who know each other," she added. "If you have friends or family coming from out of town, now is a really good time to make sure they're vaccinated."

Sources

CNN: "Experts say those who are not inoculated against Covid-19 shouldn't rely on protection from those who are."

CDC: "COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States."

C-SPAN: "White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, May 25, 2021."

Peninsula Daily News: "Caution urged over Memorial Day weekend."

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