The message last week was simple and profound: If you’re vaccinated, you’re safe. No masks, no social distancing.
That was the announcement a few days ago from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and President Joe Biden. Our federal partners have advised that we can eliminate the masking requirement in most circumstances for vaccinated individuals.
This represents a real milestone for the nation and for Shelby County. As a result, our local health directive was updated to reflect the new CDC guidelines.
Thus, Shelby County has lifted its masking requirements for fully vaccinated individuals to align with CDC guidelines and virtually every community across the country. This is good news and the best sign yet that we are on the path to normalcy. I can’t wait to see smiling faces again.
The CDC changes also represent a new incentive for everyone to think seriously about vaccination. First and foremost, please consider vaccination in order to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your community.
But, in addition, the new CDC guidelines have produced an additional benefit of vaccination. Once you get vaccinated, you have the option to do most of things you did before the pandemic, and do them without a mask.
This shift in policy will require all of us to adjust in a year when we’ve all had to make many adjustments. Even though you have been vaccinated and have protection, it may take time for everyone, everywhere to warm up to the idea of not wearing a mask. That’s ok.
During this time of transition, I would ask everyone to be respectful of one another, our neighbors and loved ones, as we continue to move through this phase of the pandemic together.
Even with the new changes here and around the country, one thing is clear and it’s this: Shelby County and the COVID-19 Joint Task Force will continue to push vaccination for the next several months.
Just a few days ago, I was with dozens of volunteers knocking on doors in parts of South Memphis to spread the message about vaccination. We focused on communities with a relatively low vaccination up-take rate. It was hard work knocking on doors and canvassing the neighborhood. We reached more than 1,000 homes. This is what’s necessary at this time in our fight against COVID-19. Therefore, I would encourage you to also please get involved. You can sign up at shelby.community to be kept informed of similar volunteer efforts. Or, you can start your own.
Throughout the pandemic, we have learned a lot about the importance of public health.
But, more importantly, we’ve all learned that life is too short and that things can change in an instant.
Make sure you get the vaccine. Make sure you talk to your friends and loved ones about the importance of getting this vaccine.
And make sure you continue to be safe.
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