COVID-19 vaccines are here, but chances are you’re going to be waiting a while—for good reason

And when you do get vaccinated—especially if you are one of the early ones—don’t immediately start acting like there’s no pandemic. For one thing, it’s not like you get a shot and a magic shield drops over you. Two shots are required, and the vaccine isn’t fully effective for a couple weeks after the second shot.

One big question mark about the vaccines—the Pfizer one now being administered and the Moderna one coming up for emergency FDA approval later this week—is whether they prevent infections or just symptoms. That means it’s possible that people who have been vaccinated could still spread the virus. So they should wear masks, at least until the majority of people have joined them in being vaccinated. For people who get vaccinated in January or February, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “There may be half the country that is still not vaccinated, which means there is a lot of virus floating around there.”

And of course those of us who haven’t been vaccinated should go on wearing masks for our own safety and that of others. Social distancing will also remain important, for the same reasons mask-wearing is important.

Our behavior can’t change for a while, probably months. But hope is here, and that gives us something to hang onto, some light in a dark time.

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