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COVID-19 vaccine a light at the end of the tunnel

Last Updated Dec 17, 2020 at 9:07 am CDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – The COVID-19 vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel, but while some are eager to get back to normal, a shot of reality shows it’s a long tunnel, according to an expert.

“Individual risk will go down quickly after you get the vaccine, but the societal risk will remain until we reach a certain threshold,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, Infectious Disease Specialist with the University of Alberta.

Alberta’s Associate Minister of Health, Jason Luan, excitedly tweeted the milestone means “3 more months to go for the final push before we can return to normal.”

“If we get ahead of ourselves, we might actually run the risk of forgetting that lots of people can still get significantly ill with this, even people who are in younger age groups who will not yet get the vaccine,” said Saxinger.

Luan backtracked his tweet about six hours after he posted it, saying he was overly ambitious and that we must stay vigilant well into 2021.

“Even people who are vaccinated may still be able to transmit to other people,” said Dr. Nathan Peters with the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious diseases at the University of Calgary.

So, what is a realistic expectation for when you’ll be able to safely leave the house without needing a mask? The answer may not be overtly clear at this point, the experts note.

“Part, I think, of civic duty is, a lot of people are going to be at the end of the line. We should all keep wearing masks until we’re told not to,” said Saxinger.

“Until we get a really firm grasp on whether the vaccine prevents transition, we’re going to be wearing masks,” added Peters.

Canada has deals for about 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which is enough for everyone to get vaccinated more than six times.

While none of the vaccines require six doses, some of the drugs, such as Pfizer’s vaccine, require each person get two shots.

“If coronavirus has taught us anything it’s taught us that we’re connected with the rest of the world and breakdowns in one part of the world may seem far away but there’s always knock-on effects and trickledown effects,” said Peters.

One of the big questions is whether things will return to normal in time for Christmas 2021.

“If the vaccine rolls out the way it can, that’s a big positive,” said Peters.

“We don’t know for sure,” added Saxinger. “I, myself, would anticipate a pretty normal Christmas next year.”