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Will 2021 bring an end to COVID-19 restrictions? Health experts say vaccines are key

An expert with UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts by May or June, 70-80% of the United States should be vaccinated.

SEATTLE — Will life return to normal in 2021? That’s the question on many minds as we welcome a new year. 

Vaccines are the answer, according to health experts.

“It all depends on the vaccine,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad with UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. "If we have the vaccines that we have been promised to get, sometime in May, June we can go back to normal."

He predicts by May or June, 70-80% of the United States should be vaccinated. That’s about 250 million people.

“We have vaccines on time and we are able to vaccinate, no side effect, no anti-vaccines coming after the vaccine, rumors – we can go back sometime by the end of May, June. We can go back to our normal lives,” Mokdad said.

Vaccines are one thing, but convincing people to get vaccinated is another.

What about those rumors Mokdad was talking about? You may hear in the news and on social media of people who recently got vaccinated getting sick or even dying, making people wonder, is the vaccine safe?

Consider this. The University of California, San Francisco points out:

If 10 million people get the COVID-19 vaccine, over the following two months, purely based on how many people normally get sick:

  • 4,025 of those people will have a heart attack
  • 3,975 will have a stroke
  • 9,500 will be diagnosed with cancer
  • 60 will be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis
  • 14,000 will die

Again, this would happen with or without a vaccine.

Mokdad, like many other health professionals, fears those statistics could be used by people who are anti-vaccine to spread misinformation.

“Every effort that needs to be done to make sure this vaccine is safe and effective is being done,” he said. “So, the anti-vaccines attacking COVID-19 is very concerning, because it means they want people not to take the regular vaccines that our children take in order to stay alive. So, it’s very dangerous and we need to stay on top of it.”

And once you get vaccinated, Mokdad says, don’t be so quick to get rid of those masks once and for all.

 “I will still wear my mask, and if I’m going on a plane in June or July I will still be wearing my mask, because we need to be very careful until we are 100% sure we’ve reached that herd immunity and the virus is not circulating,” he explained. "Remember, we had holidays that were celebrated without a loved one. We don’t want to lose any more. And vaccines are the only way we can get out of this one.”

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