As more and more people become fully vaccinated, many are wondering when life will return to normal. But before you ceremoniously throw away your face masks, experts warn that we’ll need to continue wearing them a while longer, especially in public settings.

“Face masks and physical distancing will need to continue into the foreseeable future,” explains infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD. “Unfortunately, getting vaccinated does not instantly mean we can go back to how life was before. Until we have some level of herd immunity, the vaccine is now just another layer of protection against COVID-19.”

For us to reach herd immunity, 50% to 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated. And since it will take time to ramp up production and distribution of the vaccines, Dr. Englund urges folks to manage their expectations about a quick return to normal.

There is, however, some good news for those who are already fully vaccinated, but there are stipulations. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can now safely gather indoors, in small gatherings with other people who are fully vaccinated – no mask required. But it’s important to note that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear face masks and maintain physical distance while in public spaces. Those who are fully vaccinated should also continue to avoid medium and large gatherings and those who are not vaccinated and considered high-risk.

“The vaccines are certainly a step in the right direction – and a reason to celebrate – but we’re not out of the woods yet,” she says.

Read full article on Cleveland Clinic