Op-Ed: 5 reasons to continue protecting ourselves against COVID-19
Puerto Rico’s hospitality and entertainment businesses are facing a challenge of great proportions, as we continue the economic reopening that we all long for.
In the quest to get more people vaccinated, the protection recommendations issued by our government and health leaders are confusing and inconsistent, causing many residents and visitors to lower their guard, increasing the risk of infection for a portion of those vaccinated and all those who have not yet been vaccinated.
We recognize that the most recent CDC guidelines indicate that fully vaccinated individuals can be safely gather without masks in outdoor areas, as well as in enclosed facilities and small gatherings with other fully vaccinated individuals.
However, unless access to enclosed public establishments is strictly controlled, how do we know who is vaccinated or not, beyond our close family group?
Here are five reasons to keep protecting yourself even after you’ve been vaccinated.
As of this writing, nearly 1.4 million people have been fully vaccinated. Although worldwide, Puerto Rico is in a privileged position, it just represents 44% of our population.
Experts claim that we need to achieve that between 60% and 80% of the total population is fully vaccinated, to get closer to herd immunity, and return to a total normality.
Unfortunately, a segment of our young adults has shown little interest in getting vaccinated, some people with certain health conditions, compromised immune systems, and children under 12 have not been vaccinated, and we don’t know the rate of vaccination among unregistered immigrants.
The three vaccines against COVID-19 used in Puerto Rico are excellent and provide protection between 94% 95% of those vaccinated. The disease will be with us for some time, and it is uncertain who will be in the 5% who continue to be at risk of contracting COVID-19, after being vaccinated.
For example, the measles virus is one of the most contagious, and its vaccine is 97% effective. However, it took 40 years for the disease to be considered as eliminated.
Epidemiological reports indicate that the use of a mask, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing, for the past 15 months, have contributed to a substantial reduction in the incidence and hospitalizations for other respiratory conditions, such as asthma, allergies, influenza, and mycoplasma, saving thousands of lives.
We know that the effects of COVID-19 are very serious, and even if we are fully vaccinated, we can get the infection and be asymptomatic. We want to protect our unvaccinated friends and family, while returning to the normality prior to the pandemic.
Given this reality, it is prudent that all citizens continue to protect themselves and hospitality and entertainment establishments continue to promote the use of masks, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing, especially in common areas, enclosed public venues and where crowds of people occur.
It is imperative that our government and health organizations take a firm and clear position on this matter, and we communicate and explain it many times.
Right now, Puerto Rico has access to the vaccine, so each additional death caused by COVID-19 was preventable.
We have made a lot of progress in our war against the virus, but we still have a way to go before we can regain a full social and economic routine.