- Published: March 1, 2021
Hello! This is one of the great dilemmas of public health: trying to treat as many people as possible while keeping the potential of disease spread at a minimum.
The remote risk of a recipient having a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine requires the newly vaccinated to remain seated and accessible to emergency healthcare providers for at least 15 minutes, which precludes receiving an injection in a car.
An NPR report examining the “6 feet of separation, 15 minutes of contact” mantra cited researcher Emily Gurley, an epidemiologist and contact-tracing expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who pointed out that infections are more likely to occur when people had “meaningful” amounts of close contact – such as traveling, dining or living together.
Infection opportunities also depend on the room size, air circulation, as well as the behavior of individuals in the room — i.e., quietly talking or loudly shouting — and whether they are properly masked. The 15-minute guideline, the article states, is simply a way to help contact tracers quantify which types of interactions were long enough to be significant.
Based on this, the constant movement of people a vaccination site who are properly masked, socially distanced and have plenty of access to hand sanitizer, would indicate a relatively low possibility of infection.
For the truly dedicated, an online tool, COVID-19 Indoor Safety Guideline, is available to gauge the statistical risk of possible COVID-19 infection. The work of MIT researchers Kasim Khan, John W. M. Bush, and Martin Z. Bazant, the tool can give guidance on how long it is safe to be in a room with someone who is COVID-19 positive, based on room type, size and ventilation and filtration system. It is derived from their findings in a preprint paper, “Beyond Six Feet: A Guideline to Limit Indoor Airborne Transmission of COVID-19”. It is important to note that this tool is meant only to provide suggestions and guidelines, and that spread or abatement of the COVID-19 virus is determined by many other conditions.