Health experts warn of false sense of security as vaccine rolls out

Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 6:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine began rolling out Monday, healthcare experts warn to not allow the vaccine’s arrival to create a false sense of security especially during the holidays.

Dr. Sudha Nagalingam, the Medical Director of El Rio’s HIV Infectious Disease Clinic, said Arizona’s recent spike in cases likely tracks back to Thanksgiving when people loosened restrictions and met with family and friends.

She’s now fearful of what Christmas may bring if people don’t take precautions seriously.

“It’s a phenomenon that’s happening throughout the country,” she said. “Our colleagues that are working in the ICU are being overburdened.”

El Rio is seeing a staggering 30 to 35 percent positivity rate, she said. Proof taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus is critical.

“It’s one thing to have ventilator capacity and hospital bed capacity but another issue to have staff to man those capabilities,” said Dr. Nagalingam.

Health experts remind us the vaccine won’t change our situation overnight.

“It’s going to take a while before we can provide enough protection that this pandemic is really going to go away,” said Julie Swann, a health system expert and professor.

Dr. Nagalingam said the general population may not receive the vaccine until sometime next summer.

“Everybody feels the vaccine is going to be the cure all for everything. We are still a way away. The vaccine is only now here and slowly getting into healthcare workers,” she said.

She stresses the importance for everyone to keep wearing a mask, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings as much as possible.

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