As we recently learned, the Pfizer vaccine is on the verge of being given its initial approval for distribution and the vaccinations will become available to select groups of people in a matter of days. It will obviously take a while to vaccinate everyone who wants to receive the shot, possibly taking until May or June. But assuming you’re one of the people who will be signing up to try it, once you have that out of the way, you’re pretty much in the clear, right? Assuming you have your new Immunization Identification card on you (and believe me, they’re going to try to make us start carrying them), you should be able to put away your face masks and get on with your life. Or so you’d like to think. But according to our nation’s healthcare authorities, that’s not true at all. You’d better keep those masks handy, possibly for quite a while to come. (Associated Press)

Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

No. For a couple reasons, masks and social distancing will still be recommended for some time after people are vaccinated.

To start, the first coronavirus vaccines require two shots; Pfizer’s second dose comes three weeks after the first and Moderna’s comes after four weeks. And the effect of vaccinations generally aren’t immediate.

People are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot. But full protection may not happen until a couple weeks after the second shot.

Before anyone assumes that a vaccination requiring two injections is somehow suspicious, it’s not. I finally went to get the shingles vaccine this year and it too required a second injection. That one didn’t happen until seven weeks after the initial shot, so three or four weeks to wait for the second COVID injection probably isn’t too much to ask.

You will notice, however, that all of these precautionary warnings are coming with some rather dubious caveats. If you’re not truly immune until you’ve had the full course of vaccinations, that’s one thing. It’s not unreasonable to say that you’ll want to be sure you’re in the clear before throwing all of the government mandates about the pandemic out the window. But we’re now being told that it may take “a couple of weeks” after the second shot before you have “full protection.” What does that mean?

Also, the CD has already stated that the vaccine won’t give everyone full immunity. Some people will only have “partial immunity.” On top of that, in the same announcement, the CDC tells us that they won’t know how long the immunity offered by the vaccine will last until they’ve been able to monitor and test large numbers of people. It might last for several years. It might only last a few months. How are we supposed to know?

What this sounds like to me is a case of the CDC offering cover to the government to say that even after we’ve vaccinated everyone willing to get the vaccine, maybe you’d all better just keep on following mandatory face mask orders and social distancing for some time to come. How long? Nobody is saying. To say the least, these announcements don’t exactly fill me with confidence that the government will be relinquishing all of its executive authority “during a time of crisis” any time soon. But as some point, the public will have to be able to demand a return to the normal restraints on the government’s power.

We still don’t know how many will be signing up to be vaccinated yet or how many people it will take before the CDC declares we’ve reached herd immunity. Ed Morrissey was just saying on Twitter this morning that he would be willing to go get vaccinated. I responded by saying that I would too… after I was able to watch and make sure he survived.

Don’t worry, Ed. I was just joking… mostly.

In reality, there’s no way in hell’s half-acre that I would rush out to be first in line for the vaccine, particularly at my age and with my medical history. I’ll have to stay home and see what the numbers look like after a lot of the early adopters get it. Then I’ll make up my mind.