When US President Joe Biden delivered his first speech to Congress last month, everyone in the room was wearing a mask and socially distancing from each other. In these odd, pandemic times, this might seem normal.
But the strangest part was that everyone in the room had been vaccinated.
The CDC website says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without the need for a mask or social distance precautions. Fully vaccinated people can also gather with non-vaccinated people of any age group as long as their risk of illness or death from COVID-19 is low.
Though a third of the country has now been vaccinated, rates of vaccinations are slowing down, and there are concerns vaccine hesitancy is a contributing factor.
The CDC estimates up to 32 percent of Americans in some areas are hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC told CNN that approximately 5,800 people were infected with COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. There have now been close to 100 million people fully vaccinated in the US. That is a rate of 0.0058%. The CDC also told CNN that out of those 5,800 reinfections, 74 people died. That is a 0.000074% chance of death.
While vaccines are not always 100% effective, these figures show a success rate of at least 99%, but the public displays from members of Congress and the Senate during President Biden’s Congressional address tell a different story to the American people.
In March, Senator Rand Paul, questioned the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr Anthony Fauci, about the use of masks after people had been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
“You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show,” he said.
“Everyone agrees they have immunity. What studies do you have that show people that have had the vaccine or had the infection are spreading the infection?”, he asked. “If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theatre?”
Dr Fauci did not cite any studies, but responded with the case that the vaccines might not protect people from other variants of COVID-19.
“We’re not dealing with a static situation with the same virus,” he said.
While the risk of other variants is prevalent, there is no significant information to suggest the numbers of reinfections or hospitalisations after vaccination could spiral out of control like the first wave of COVID-19 did.
Compared to ‘fully open’ states Texas and Florida, which are 26th and 27th respectively in terms of COVID deaths per 100,000, states like Michigan remain locked down until vaccination thresholds are met.
“On our path to vaccinating 70 percent of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, speaking to the Detroit Free Press
It’s been reported that 70 percent need to be vaccinated until normal life can resume. Texas has recently reported zero COVID-19 deaths for the first time since March 2020 and the state is sitting at around a 32 percent rate of vaccination in its population.
Texas removed its mask mandate in March and has been back to relatively normal life for several months.