We Are Public Health: 2021 and COVID-19

by Lisa Vasquez, NHPHA Communications Committee Chair

Finally, 2020 is gone, and here we are on the other side in 2021, yet still dealing with COVID-19. Recently we have seen a substantial increase in cases due to holiday gatherings. The number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths has increased. Public health professionals are expecting numbers to continue increasing after the holidays. Vaccines have arrived with anticipation by some and trepidation by others.

What is currently known about the two vaccines being dispensed in New Hampshire? Both vaccines have gone through human trials in the United States and been approved for emergency use. These vaccines are also being dispensed and administered in other countries. Each state is receiving an allotted amount of vaccines, and they are being dispensed in phases. The first phase includes at-risk health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and first responders. This first phase targets the highest-risk population and recognizes that there is a supply limitation at this time. As the vaccines supply increases, larger parts of the population will have access to the vaccine. As with other vaccines, it will be important to consult your primary care provider if you have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines or are utilizing immune-suppressant medications.

What does the arrival of the vaccines mean for mask wearing and social distancing in 2021? Not much right now. Both vaccines being administered have two doses, with the second dose being administered 21 to 28 days after the first, depending on which vaccine you receive. The fact that the state is in the first phase of vaccine distribution and there are multiple doses means that people will need to continue to social distance and wear masks until most of the population is vaccinated. New Hampshire has lost more than 750 residents due to COVID-19 since March. Let’s continue to do our part to keep our community safe and healthy. Let’s create a healthier 2021 for our entire community by social distancing, wearing a facial covering, and washing our hands frequently until we can move forward from COVID-19. For more information on NH’s vaccination plan, please visit https://www.nh.gov/covid19/resources-guidance/vaccination-planning.htm. Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash.

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