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Infectious Disease Expert Praises Vaccination Rate

First COVID -19 vaccination at McLaren Hospital photo
WKAR File Photo
Three vaccines against coronavirus are not being distributed in Michigan.

With the number of people vaccinated against coronavirus growing daily, people in Michigan are starting to wonder about life after getting their shots. WKAR’s Scott Pohl talks with Dr. Peter Gulick, an expert in infectious diseases at Michigan State University. Dr. Gulick is impressed with the pace of vaccinations.

DR. PETER GULICK: There's a lot of resources, I think, to get people vaccinated. Now, it's not as restricted as it was before. As far as around the country, it depends on the state you're in and what requirements they have, and what issues they have, but I think that we still have a long way to go. I think we still have to really promote and push vaccines and try to get them implemented as effectively as possible.

SCOTT POHL: We've now lifted the capacity limit in restaurants from 25-percent to 50-percent. People can begin to visit those who live in elder care facilities. What are your thoughts on the pace of these restrictions in Michigan?

DR. GULICK: There's individuals that that think we're going too slow, there's others that think we're going too fast, but I think we have to, just each one of us has to take responsibility for ourselves and for protecting not only ourselves, but others. So, just common sense things. I mean, we're still in the weather where it's cold outside, we're still indoors a lot, we're still restricted. Again, a lot of us haven't been vaccinated yet, so we have to be very careful, and then there's the various strains out there that seem to be more infectious, and so we have to be careful about that. There's been several of those already reported in Michigan. We're still dealing with a serious problem. I think we've plateaued a little as far as cases and deaths, but that spike could go right back up again, especially with these variants out there that we really don't know the full effect of or what new variants might do.


Their mood is much better, they feel like they're not being restricted, not being imprisoned, but we have to be very smart about what we're doing. Dr. Peter Gulick

POHL: I'm going to guess that you might think that states like Texas have moved too fast in taking actions like lifting mask requirements.

DR. GULICK: Yeah, like I said, I think that different states that have just gone from one extreme to the other I think, we still have to be very cautious. Everybody wants to go back to a normal life the way it was prior to COVID, but we're going to have to just be very, very careful. There's still a lot of hurdles we have to go through before we can get there. I think if we just are smart about it, and just more conscious and again kind of opening the doors up a little bit, and then pausing a little seeing how that works, making sure no new cases occur, then opening the doors a little further, and continue to have people get vaccinated. I think eventually, we'll get to where we want to, and it'll be a safe way rather than trying to get these peaks and troughs, peaks and troughs of new cases.

POHL: The CDC this week has come out with some guidelines regarding what to do and what not to do after you have been fully vaccinated. I wanted to ask you what you think about that, and also what you think those of us who have not yet been fully vaccinated ought to do when we are with people that we know are vaccinated. What should those folks be doing?

DR. GULICK: The individuals that have been vaccinated definitely are protected much more. Again, you still have to worry about them still potentially transmitting the infection because we don't know the full effects of how effective the vaccine is in completely protecting us from it, or could we still be carriers of the virus. So we still have that little opening that we have to seal out, but as far as individuals that are vaccinated, going in areas where others have been vaccinated, where they can loosen the restrictions a little I think, is good. I think it's something that I agree with. I think that it's proven that these vaccines are very effective in protecting us from definitely serious infections, and I think that's the probably the most important thing is they're 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. So, I think that's a very important thing to get out. We still have to be cautious. And as far as unvaccinated individuals, they still have to be cautious as well, especially with variants out there that could be more infectious to them in the fact that they're 30 to 50-percent more infectious than the initial wild type COVID that was there back in, you know, last year. So, I think the unvaccinated still have to be cautious in many respects.  

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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