How soon will things go back to normal with the COVID-19 vaccine? Doctor weighs in

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be administered across the state, many people are wondering when life will return to normal.

One UNM doctor said it will likely be awhile before people can travel freely and lose the masks.

According to the State Health Department, more than 220,000 New Mexicans have already received their first dose. Health officials said the best protection against the virus won’t happen until about a week after the second dose. Even then, people should still be careful.

"You know, it’s going to be awhile before we can all go back to pre-pandemic. We have to continue to protect ourselves, that’s all the thing we’ve been talking about all along— social distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds,” said Dr. Melissa Martinez, a UNM Hospital internal medicine professor.

In 2020, the travel industry took a big hit due to trip cancellations. Dr. Martinez said people should consider staying the course this year, too.

"The truth of the matter is, vaccines aren’t 100 percent,” she said. “The other measures we do aren’t 100 percent, but if we combine them, we’re more likely not to get the disease. So from an individual point of view, it’s better to continue to do those things."

However there is some hope, according to Dr. Martinez. She said if your household gets vaccinated and wants to visit others who are also vaccinated, it’ll be safer to do so.