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Doctor urges people to continue wearing masks, even after receiving COVID-19 vaccination

Healthcare workers, first responders and people who are over 75 years old are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in most Tennessee counties.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee health leaders are busy getting as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as possible, with their limited supply of shots.

Healthcare workers, first responders and those over 75 years old are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in most counties, but even after they get the vaccine doctors said there’s still a chance you could get infected. 

No vaccine is 100% effective, including those for COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were close to being perfect, with an effectiveness of 95%. 

“95% effective, not 100%. There’s a 5% chance," said Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He said that a 5% chance could make some people vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. 

The CDC said people should not assume they are completely immune after they receive the vaccine.

So, how long does it take to build up the immunity from the vaccine? 

Well, both kinds require two doses. Even after people get the second dose, there’s still time before it will take its full effect.

For Moderna, that’s two weeks after the second dose. For Pfizer, it’s only one week after people go in for their second shot.

“The vaccines have shown that if you get infected, they prevent you from becoming sick. But they haven’t shown to prevent infection so there is a chance we could still get infected even though we’re vaccinated and we could spread it," said Schaffner. 

There is still little known about how long that immunity lasts. 

While many people are several weeks or months away from receiving the vaccine, Schaffner said people need to understand that the precautions communities have been following aren’t going to just disappear. 

“Even though you’ve received a vaccine, continue to wear a mask and do social distancing," he said.

He asks for patience while everyone fights this together. 

“We’re all working very hard to vaccinate folks," said Schaffner. “We’re getting the kinks out of the program, more vaccines will come in but this will take a long time.”

Tennessee is one of the top states in the nation for total doses administered. 

The state also created an online tool to help people find out when they’re eligible to receive a vaccine.