On Monday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control said those who are fully vaccinated can enjoy more freedoms and fewer restrictions in certain settings.

Responding to that information, Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy told KGVO News that there are many advantages to being fully immunized.

“The CDC has the evidence to support that once you are considered fully vaccinated, meaning the second dose on the two dose vaccine, or the one and only dose on the Johnson and Johnson, then you're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after that last step,” she said. “Then, if you were to be exposed to someone who did have COVID you are not considered a close contact and you would not be facing quarantine.”

Leahy said more intimate family settings in which people have been fully vaccinated bring even fewer restrictions.

“The other guidelines that fall out more in your private setting, your social group, your family, or your roommates, that if you're all fully vaccinated, you do not need to take the same distancing precautions and the masking precautions if the whole group is fully vaccinated,” she said.

Leahy tapped the nail introduced on Wednesday when Incident Commander Cindy Farr told KGVO News that there were suddenly many hundreds of vaccine appointments available, and that people were giving up if they didn’t get in within the first five to fifteen minutes.

“I know it was difficult at first for people to get in, but now we are finding that there's much more opportunity for folks to get vaccinated,” she said. “We're not having clinics fill up in the first four minutes, and so when you look at your personal life and realize that you are going to have more freedom, and more protection for yourself and everyone around you, I think it's a huge incentive at a personal level to be vaccinated.”

Leahy did not have access during the interview on Thursday to the possible percentage of people who refuse to be vaccinated, (The Hill published an article this week stating that 1 in 4 Americans are refusing to be vaccinated) however, she said evidence is mounting of the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

“Every piece of evidence that comes out, in fact we got new reports yesterday in our weekly vaccine call with the epidemiological team at the state health department, that the evidence of people not suffering serious side effects is it's just getting stronger and stronger.”

Leahy urges all who want to be vaccinated to be persistent in contacting COVID19.missoula.co, or to call 258-INFO (4636) until you get your appointment.

This reporter received his first Pfizer vaccine on Thursday morning and suffered no ill effects. The decision to be vaccinated is up to each individual, however, Leahy emphasized that the more people become vaccinated, ‘that’s the ticket out’ of the pandemic.

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