This Is When You Can Have a Large Gathering Again, Doctor Says

There's a light at the end of the tunnel—and we may reach it sooner than you think.

Over the last year, we've missed out on weddings, graduations, holidays, and funerals because of the pandemic. We've cancelled sporting events and held Zoom baby showers, all with the singular aim of avoiding crowds. And that's exactly why the prospect of having a large gathering again is so significant: when we can finally convene without fear or consequence, it will mean COVID's grip on our lives is loosening.

But when, exactly, is that going to happen?

Most projections have been nebulous and noncommittal, given the unpredictable nature of the virus and its variants. But according to a live Q&A with Leana S. Wen, MD, a physician and columnist for The Washington Post, the milestone may be nearer than you think. With a bit of luck—and some continued precautions—you may be able to safely attend events with other people as soon as this summer. Read on to learn about Wen's encouraging prediction, and for more essential COVID news, Dr. Fauci Just Said This Is When Life Will Return to "What It Was Before."

"There's a good chance that we can get together with others by the summer if everyone there is fully vaccinated," Wen explained. However, she warned that this possibility is contingent on several factors, "including if vaccines are found to offer excellent protection against emerging variants, if vaccine verification can be done reliably for all attendees, and if data continue to show that vaccines will reduce likelihood of being a carrier for coronavirus."

Even if we are able to gather by then, Wen notes that we may still need to wear masks depending on "the answers to these questions and the size of the gathering." Thankfully, preliminary evidence from recent studies indicates that the vaccine does in fact prevent transmission, as opposed to only eliminating symptoms. If proven, this would swing things dramatically in the favor of things returning to normalcy in the near future, making IRL events possible again with a fraction of the risk they currently present.

That's not the only good news Wen had in store, however. Read on to discover what Wen says you can expect after getting your vaccine, and for more pandemic predictions, Dr. Fauci Just Said When It'll Be Safe to Dine Indoors Like Normal Again.

1
It's impossible to get COVID from the vaccine.

 

doctor with syringe injecting vaccine on young woman patient against coronavirus -
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The COVID vaccine's side effects can mirror certain side effects of COVID-19 itself, leading to rumors that the vaccine can actually infect you with the virus.

However, Wen dispelled this misconception, reassuring readers that they cannot become infected by any of the approved vaccines. "The COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized (and others that are undergoing trials in the U.S.) do not contain live virus. The side effects are from the body developing an immune response in case you encounter coronavirus in the future. They are normal and expected, and should not be a concern to others around them," she said. And for the latest COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

2
Food allergies shouldn't stop you from getting the COVID vaccine.

 

doctor talking to elderly patient wearing mask
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One reader wrote in to ask whether or not allergies should deter someone from becoming vaccinated against COVID. "What advice do you have for people like me who have multiple medication and food allergies about taking the COVID vaccine?" they wrote.

Wen sympathized, saying, "I also have medication and food allergies, as do millions of Americans," but urged the reader to become vaccinated anyway. "Unless you are allergic to a specific component of the vaccine you're taking, you should still obtain the vaccine. You'll be observed for 30 minutes after the vaccine (instead of 15 minutes like others)," she said. And for more insights on the COVID vaccine, Dr. Fauci Says Doing This After Getting Vaccinated Is a Huge Mistake.

3
Being immunocompromised may lessen the vaccine's efficacy.

 

Person getting COVID vaccine
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Being immunocompromised during the COVID pandemic is a double edged sword, explains Wen: the condition may lower the vaccine's efficacy, but not getting the vaccine leaves those with compromised immune systems at considerable risk.

"It is possible that the vaccines may be less long-lasting in those with compromised immune systems. It's also possible that those on immunosuppressant medications may mount less robust of a response," she explained. "What we know for certain is that those [who are immunocompromised] are more likely to become severely ill from coronavirus. That's why those who are immunocompromised should see it as an even greater imperative to get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible," added Wen.

4
Prevention is the best cure—for now.

 

A doctor wearing gloves fills a syringe with COVID-19 vaccine
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Another reader asked Wen, "Why is there little or no mention of treatment for COVID-19 on the mainstream media?"

"There is no cure for COVID-19," Wen responded. She explained that the treatments that are currently available, such as dexamethasone, Remdesivir, and monoclonal antibody treatments, can prevent severe symptoms and reduce mortality. "We need to focus on getting better treatments, as we also acknowledge that the key is to prevent getting coronavirus in the first place, and that is what the vaccine does. (It's also what masking, physical distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings, and other public health measures do as well.)" And for more essential vaccine news, check out You Should Never Do This After Getting the COVID Vaccine, Officials Say.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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