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COVID-19 vaccines are here, but precautions are still important

A person washes their hands
A person washes their hands (Photo via Cleveland Clinic News Service)

There’s finally a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. The first coronavirus vaccines are being distributed across the United States.

Kristin Englund, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic, hopes this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

“The only way that we’re really going to be able to get back to normal life in this country and across the world is to be able to vaccinate our way out of it,” she said.

Vaccines are currently being distributed in small amounts. The first batch is designated for front line healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff.

After that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined numerous tiers of eligibility, but it will be several months before vaccine reaches the general population.

With an end in sight, Dr. Englund said it’s more critical than ever to remain vigilant with coronavirus precautions.

“It’s really, really important that in the meantime we protect ourselves as best as we can until you get the vaccine by wearing your masks, social distancing and really being even more careful around the holidays where there’s a temptation to get together with your family members,” said Dr. Englund. “You don’t want to lose somebody this close to being near the end of the pandemic.”

Dr. Englund said the ultimate goal is to vaccinate 70-to-80% of the population and create ‘herd immunity’ to protect those who are most vulnerable and unable to be vaccinated.