Dr. Birx: People who get the COVID vaccine should still wear a mask

Dr. Deborah Birx discusses COVID vaccine rollout and holiday travel during the pandemic
Dr. Deborah Birx discusses COVID vaccine rollout and holiday travel during the pandemic(Gray DC)
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 4:19 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved for distribution across the country, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx said the top priority is to vaccinate frontline workers, people with high-risk medical conditions and people over 65-years-old first.

She projects up to seven million Americans will be vaccinated within the next couple of weeks during the first round, but she predicts the general public will most likely have to wait until spring or summer to get immunized.

“And I think those of us that don’t fit into those categories are just going to have to wait our turn after March to really ensure that the most vulnerable Americans, and make sure there’s real equity in this, that those who need it the most those, that are exposed the most, those that are most likely to have severe outcomes get immunized,” Birx said. Watch a clip from our interview with Dr. Birx on this topic below:

For those who may be hesitant about getting vaccinated, Birx said she wants to assure Americans the vaccines are highly effective and safe. But she said people will still need to be careful once they get the vaccine. Birx said researchers are still trying to determine if someone can still infect others once they are vaccinated.

“Right now, we don’t know how great these vaccines might be against preventing infection. So you may get a low grade infection and you may shed virus. We know it protects against disease and protects against severe disease,” she said. Watch more of Dr. Birx’s discussion about this below:

The approval of the vaccines come as millions are traveling during the holidays, despite top health officials, including Dr. Birx, urging people to limit celebrations. For those determined to see their loved ones, Birx offers this advice:

“If you’ve made that decision, protect those that have co-morbidities, protect those that are over 65 and wear a mask indoors when you’re interacting with them. If any of those individuals develop symptoms, particularly those with co-morbidities, or those that are over 65 they need to immediately get tested and immediately treated.”

Birx said it is important for anyone who gets COVID over the age of 65-years-old to call a doctor and ask for monoclonal antibody treatment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the treatment in November. Watch a clip from our interview with Dr. Birx below:

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