The Surgeon General Says You Must Do These 2 Things Now to End the Pandemic

The top health official just outlined the last challenges remaining to beat COVID.

After more than a year of lockdowns, public health measures, and business closures, people are more than ready to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. Unfortunately, while plenty of progress has been made in lowering the number of new daily cases, there remains a fair bit of work to be done before life can go back to "normal." And according to the Surgeon General, there are at least two things people must do if they want to end the pandemic as soon as possible. Read on to see what the top health official recommends, and for more on how to keep yourself safe in the meantime, The CDC Says If You See This at a Restaurant, Don't Go Inside.

The Surgeon General says you should help everyone you know get vaccinated.

Portrait of male doctor talking to family while standing in waiting room at hospital, all wearing masks

Despite passing a major milestone of getting at least one dose into 50 percent of adults in the U.S., some officials are becoming concerned as vaccination rates are beginning to drop as public enthusiasm wanes. But according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, getting over the final hurdle of the pandemic involves being proactive with helping the people in your life get their shots.

"The vaccine is the most important pathway to ending this pandemic. That means we've got to get everyone in our country vaccinated," Murthy said on Apr. 19. "Now what we've got to do is No. 1: Get the vaccine. No. 2: Turn around and look at our family and friends and ask if they're going to get vaccinated. If they need help, that's what we've got to do." And for more vaccine news, Doctor Behind Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Says You'll Need a Shot This Often.

Lower vaccination rates can allow contagious variants to spread.

Man getting COVID vaccine

The Surgeon General's warning comes after major regional COVID spikes have caused concern among some experts that highly contagious variants of the virus will continue to fuel outbreaks through the late phases of the pandemic. "If we slow down because of [vaccine] hesitancy, it gives more and more time for variants of concern, specifically B.1.1.7 that has ravaged states such as Michigan, to continue to spread and set off potential new surges in local communities," Abdul El-Sayed, MD, physician and epidemiologist, told CNN.

"It has always been a race between the vaccines and the variants. And hesitancy just slows down that vaccine leg," he warned. And for more vaccine guidance, Do This Immediately After Getting Your Vaccine, Doctors Say.

Young, unvaccinated people are now becoming infected with COVID at a higher rate.

An infected patient in laying in bed in hospital
Halfpoint / iStock

Other officials have also pointed out that the demographics of who is most affected by COVID-19 are beginning to change. During a White House COVID-19 briefing on Apr. 19, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, told reporters that while progress had been made, recent outbreaks were painting a different picture than previous surges.

"More people in the United States are being vaccinated every single day at an accelerated pace," she said. "On the other hand, cases and hospitalizations are increasing in some areas of the country. Cases among younger people who have not yet been vaccinated are also increasing." And for insight into breakthrough cases, You're More Likely to Get COVID After Vaccination If You're Over This Age.

Enough of the population has to be vaccinated for public health measures to go away, experts say.

A young woman standing outdoors and removing her face mask.

Other experts have argued that the sooner enough of the population has been vaccinated, the sooner we can move back to normal life. During an interview with CNN's Inside Politics on Apr. 18, Megan Ranney, MD, emergency physician at the Rhode Island Hospital and associate professor at Brown University, said that mask mandates should only be removed when "around 70 percent or 80 percent" of the national adult population is vaccinated.

Ranney isn't alone in holding this opinion. During an interview with CNN in February, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser, said, "When [the number of COVID cases] goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, we need to pull back on the masks [indoors], we don't need to have masks." And for more on how effective your shots can be, This One Vaccine May Protect You Against All Variants, New Study Says.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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