Want to stop wearing masks? This is what has to happen even after you get the COVID-19 vaccine

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the desire to end the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to normal as soon as possible, a top Houston-area doctor is explaining what it will take to do that.

Dr. Peter Hotez, the Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, participated in ABC13's town hall on vaccine questions Tuesday night.

During the virtual event, he explained that in order to beat COVID-19, about 75% of Houstonians will need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

That means:

  • 1.6 million of the roughly 2 million people who live in Houston have to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by August.
  • To achieve that vaccination goal, 200,000 people have to get vaccinated every month. That's 8,000 - 9,000 people who need to get a COVID-19 shot every day.
  • It'll be important to have mass vaccine administering sites, such as NRG Park. If those sites stick around, we'll be on track to reach the goal.

"We're not getting vaccine into the arms of people, and part of it, we're too dependent on the pharmacy chains, and I don't have a problem with the pharmacy chains. You know, I get my vaccines at H-E-B and Randalls and Kroger like everybody else, but that in itself is not going to be adequate to meet the demand, and I made a call that we're going to have to open up additional venues, and the mayor responded. He opened up that Bayou City (Event) Center," Hotez said. "I went and visited about a week or so ago. It's extremely well run."

"So the point is, the infrastructure is now in place, and now we have to get the vaccines out and, we can't let this fail," Hotez continued.

But when you receive both doses of the vaccine, you still need to be vigilant and wear a mask because you could still infect other people.

"If I'm out and about in the community or going to work, in theory, even though I'm protected against serious illness or symptomatic illness and death, I still could be shedding the virus at home. What that means is when I'm out and about, at least for the time being I still have to wear my mask. And then over time, when we show that the vaccines actually stopped asymptomatic transmission, it makes it easier. The masks can start coming off as we move later into the year," Hotez explained.

Keep in mind, the whole process of eradicating COVID-19 takes time. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was also a panelist during ABC13's town hall and explained that the City of Houston just doesn't have enough of the vaccine yet.

Our city, unlike other big cities, the mayor explained, doesn't get the vaccine directly from the distributor. We have to wait for the state to allocate it, and because of that, we don't get a large amount.

Right now, we're getting about 8,000 doses per shipment. Turner says we need more like 40,000 - 50,000 weekly.

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