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You've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, now what? A look at virus safety after the shot

Last Updated Mar 5, 2021 at 2:07 pm PDT

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Infectious diseases expert says people should continue to follow health guidelines even if they've gotten COVID vaccine

Expert says you can still get COVID-19 even if you're vaccinated, so you need to continue to be cautious

We'll likely see a gradual lifting of public health measures as more and more Canadians get vaccinated, expert says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With more people rolling up their sleeves to get the COVID-19 vaccine, many are wondering what they can and can’t do when it comes to coronavirus safety measures.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist out of Toronto General Hospital, says the best advice is to keep following public health guidelines.

“I think it’s going to be, for lack of a better word, a bit confusing,” he admitted.

As more people are immunized, he thinks it will be an awkward time as some people get their shots and others continue to wait; mass gatherings won’t be allowed until a majority of people get the COVID-19 shot.

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“It’s clear that we are not going to have mass gatherings, right? We’re not going to start packing into restaurants, and bars, and having giant concerts — that’s out until more and more of us are vaccinated,” Bogoch said. “But we’ll get there. We’re just not going to be there yet.”

He believes we’ll likely see a gradual lifting of public health measures, allowing for people to start gathering bit by bit.

However, he notes there will be different risk thresholds, so people will need to be aware.

“The way our process is, first of all, I’m going to listen to what the public health leadership says and I’m just going to go along with what they say. But until we hear about that, I think it’s reasonable to let common sense prevail,” Bogoch told NEWS 1130.

Assessing individual risk

He adds the ultimate goal is to keep people from getting sick — regardless of their age — though we do know people who are older are disproportionately impacted, being more likely to get sicker than younger groups.

“You’ve got to ask yourself: can you go hug your grandchildren? Well, you know the grandchildren have the risk of picking up this infection at school, or with playdates, or with other interactions. Is grandma and grandpa safe? The answer is they’re probably pretty safe, but you have to be careful, right? You can still get infected with this even if you’re vaccinated,” Bogoch said.

When it comes to individual interactions, he notes there will also likely be a few differences of opinion.

“You’re going to have different people with very strong opinions on this and different risk thresholds. We’ll hopefully get some guidance from senior public health leadership but I think we should navigate this with a bit of common sense, with a bit of empathy,” he explained.

Bogoch says if people are vaccinated, getting together should be fine. However, if only one person in your group is, then you should still be cautious.

Bottom line: the expert urges people to follow guidelines.

Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization suggested 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 could get a single dose by the end of June.

B.C.’s top doctor has also suggested that British Columbians could return to some sense of normalcy within months, as soon as the summer.