Group of people having a picnic with a dog on a field with thin trees in the background.

Photo Credit: Helena Lopez

Free at Last? – What Will the First Vaccinated Summer Look Like?

Is it really time for sweet relief?

COVID numbers are down and vaccine numbers are up. What does that mean for the summer?

We know that the summer won’t be “normal”. There are still some travel restrictions. Big events and festivals are cancelled. But now that more of us are getting the jab, what will we be able to do this summer?

Whole-community vaccine events, where everyone in a small town gets the first dose at the same time, means that lots of Vancouver Island places are full of people who have some COVID protection.

But still, what does that mean?

In an interview with the CBC Podcast Frontburner, Dr. Lynora Saxinger talked about what the summer might look like. She is an epidemiologist from the University of Alberta.

Her first warning was not to get too excited once you get your first jab. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to really kick in, so don’t go wild the day you get the first dose. Keep wearing your mask, stay away from big groups, and let your immune system toughen up against COVID.

But what if someone wants to have a small party with 6 or 7 people who have all had their first shot?

She says that even with the vaccine there is no such thing as a “no risk” situation. “I don’t want to jump the gun and say fly and be free!” But she realizes that people have had to give up a lot to take care of each other during COVID. So she says to keep some of the basics, like don’t share utensils, outside is better than inside, and keep the windows open if you are inside. And maybe you can you take extra care of someone who might still get sick even though they’ve had a vaccine, like older folks or people with other health problems.

As for the bigger stuff, Dr. Saxinger says we probably won’t get some big announcement to say that COVID is over. It’s more like things will kind of fade. It is still safest to wear masks inside public places until everyone is vaccinated, but as more people get the jab it’ll be easier to open shops, restaurants, and gyms.

So we might not be able to have that 100-person family reunion this summer, but we can still hang out with some family and friends and move things inside if it starts raining.

Dr. Saxinger also said she thinks kids will have a more normal school year next year. Lots of kids on the Island have been at school all year, but there has always been a fear in the background that things could be moved online. But, other countries that have lots of vaccinated adults are also finding that kids don’t get sick as often either. That’s hopeful news as it may still be a while before kids can get the vaccine.