By Natalie Talis
By now, you’re likely very tired of hearing about COVID-19. With the news shifting between optimism and negativity, it is hard to get a handle on what actually is happening and what it means for you and your loved ones. Here’s the good news: Almost one-third of Alexandrians ages 16 and over have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And nearly 75% of Alexandrians ages 65 and over have been vaccinated.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated, including that they should continue wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance when in public, when gathering with unvaccinated people at high risk of severe illness or when gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household.
People who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask and can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household – for example, visiting with relatives who all live together – without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to stay away from others or get tested after exposure to someone with COVID-19 unless they develop symptoms.
If you are age 65 and up and haven’t been able to schedule a vaccine appointment, contact the Alexandria Health Department on weekdays at 703-746-4988.
Here’s the not so good news: We’re still some time away from the end of the pandemic.
With the new variants of COVID-19 active in Virginia and across the United States, basic precautions are still incredibly important. That means wearing your mask over your nose and mouth, maintaining six feet of distance from others and washing your hands regularly. That also includes getting tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms. New research has shown that these variants of the COVID-19 virus are more contagious and can produce more severe illness.
While we’re all ready to get back to normal, we can’t let our guard down yet. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we all still have to do our part to safeguard ourselves and each other until more of us are protected.
The writer is population health manager for the Alexandria Health Department