"The thing I want folks to appreciate about this is that vaccines don't work until you take them. And so let's remember 10% of Americans only at this point are fully vaccinated," said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.
March 12, 2021

It's true that we're all feeling more optimistic about the covid pandemic, but it's important to realize what will go into reaching that July 4th goal Joe Biden talked about last night. People being people, we know there will be a hard-core contingent of knuckleheads who will go out and party as if we've already reached that goal.

CNN's John Berman introduced CNN contributor Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, an epidemiologist and Detroit's former health commissioner, to talk about it.

"May 1st for everyone to be able to sign up for a vaccine. July 4th for a little bit of normalcy. What needs to happen, right, in terms of vaccine distribution in order for this to work?" he asked.

"Well, we're going to rely on every single dose of the vaccine getting where it needs to go and getting into the arms of people. We've had challenges with deployment. And to think about it, May 1st is still five months from when we had the first vaccines," El-Sayed said.

"But this is a moment where we're seeing a lot of vaccines come online, particularly with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is as if you had two of the other Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. And so we're starting to get into the rhythm of getting these deployed in all sorts of locations. the other part of this $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. I want to put that in perspective. Much of that going into vaccine deployment to grease the wheels to get vaccines out to people. I think this is an achievable outcome," he said.

Alysin Camerota said every morning, she and her co-host "struggle with this tension between the optimism and the, is it time to warn people about what might be ahead? And so we have one more harbinger of what might be ahead and that's looking at Italy.

"And so the prime minister is announcing this morning, I believe, they will do a lockdown in Italy around Easter because new cases there are again spiking because of the new variants. what do we need to know here?"

"That is a huge warning sign and, look, it has never been the case that vaccines alone were going to get us there. we've always needed vaccines in the context of tried and true basic public health blocking and tackling," the epidemiologist said.

"Just because we have vaccines coming onboard, let's remember we still need to do the basic things because we have these variants breathing down our neck. the increase in funding, the increase in new vaccines coming online, it tells us we're taking a slight lead in this case but we don't pull up now. We have to continue to run through the finish line.

"And the thing I want folks to appreciate about this is that vaccines don't work until you take them. And so let's remember 10% of Americans only at this point are fully vaccinated. That leaves us 90% to go. and that means when your number is called, get your vaccine. There are increasing new guidelines that open up opportunities for safe interactions, the kinds of things we've been missing for a year now, but we have to get vaccinated and until then and even after then, we've got to be careful. We don't want to end up like Italy where there are lockdowns over Easter where we missed that July 4th goal that we have.

"We really want to have a good summer. We want to get out of it safely and let's not forget the 530,000 who have already passed from this disease and millions more who have gotten it."

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