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COVID vaccine not a

David Bruce Erie Times-News USA TODAY NETWORK

Charlotte Berringer, R.N director of community health for the Erie County Department of Health The 51,216 Erie County residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 might feel like they are now invincible against the virus.

That’s not exactly true, said Charlotte Berringer, R.N., director of community health for the Erie County Department of Health.

'The impression I get is that many of these folks feel like the vaccine is a get-out-of-jail-free card and that they can get back to doing anything they did before,' Berringer said.

Berringer said people who have full immunity are safe for activities such as gathering without face masks in small groups with other fully vaccinated people.

They can also gather with unvaccinated people from a single household under similar conditions, as long as the unvaccinated individuals are at low risk for severe illness if infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

But Berringer said vaccinated people must continue to take precautions in other circumstances. It’s because the current vaccines, while very effective, do not provide 100% protection and it is not yet known if they prevent people from spreading the virus.

'If you are fully vaccinated and want to go out in public where there are unvaccinated people, you still need to wear a face mask and practice social distancing,' Berringer said.

Erie County reported 56 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death on Tuesday.

The county’s number of new cases has increased 19% in the past week, though COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline. Hospitalization trends tend to lag behind new case trends by a couple of weeks.

Berringer declined to predict whether COVID-19 hospitalizations will increase in the county but said she is pleased with the county’s rise in vaccinations.

'We are getting a lot of vaccine into people’s arms,' Berringer said. 'About 33% of the county’s eligible population, people 16 and older, have at least one dose of vaccine. Another 7,000 doses are expected to be given this week.'

The county has 18,926 total cases of COVID-19, 453 deaths and 66,309 negative tests since the pandemic started.

Eleven county residents with COVID-19 were hospitalized Monday evening, including three in intensive care units and one who needed a ventilator, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

A total of 964 county residents have active cases of COVID-19 and 17,509 have recovered, according to state health department estimates.

Contact David Bruce at

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