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A possibly beautiful summer is ahead, but, first, Americans have to get through an awkward season of pandemic life. Our writers lay out how to think about safety in a semi-vaccinated world.
America is inching toward relief. But this moment doesn’t look the same for everyone.
The current chapter—in which some Americans are fully vaccinated, but not enough to protect the wider population against the coronavirus’s spread—is new territory. The rules of pandemic life are changing once again.
Here are a few things to remember as America takes its next, awkward steps toward normal.
One principle can help you—whether you are vaccinated or not—navigate this new phase. “When deciding what you can and can’t do, you should think less about your own vaccination status, and more about whether your neighbors, family, grocery clerks, delivery drivers, and friends are still vulnerable to the virus,” Rachel Gutman writes.
Vaccine makers don’t need a perfect dosing regimen. They need an effective one. Vaccination is about data, but also trust, Katherine J. Wu explains: “In the absence of public trust, even an immunologically ideal vaccine-dosing regimen won’t be the one that protects the most people.”
Vaccines might never bring us to herd immunity, but they can still help end the pandemic. “The role of COVID-19 vaccines may ultimately be more akin to that of the flu shot: reducing hospitalizations and deaths by mitigating the disease’s severity,” Sarah Zhang wrote earlier this month.
Don’t forget about the global picture. As one expert told James Hamblin, many low-income countries may end up far behind in vaccine distribution. That's dangerous for the world: “Providing the virus with new places to spread will allow it to linger with us indefinitely. The longer it sticks around, the more time it has to mutate—which is bad news for the entire world, Americans included,” James notes.