By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — More than 1.3 million people in Florida have now received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as state and federal officials ramp up vaccine sites, some even lowering the age restriction to those over 55.

Dr. Anthony Fauci commented over the weekend on the declining number of coronavirus cases.

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“I want to see it go way down. When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, we need to pull back on the masks, we don’t need to have masks.”

But that is a long way off and Fauci said it’s “possible” Americans will still need to wear masks in 2022 to protect against the coronavirus, even as the US may reach “a significant degree of normality” by the end of this year.

There is also caution for those who have received both shots.

You are not out of the woods. You are not immune. You can still carry and spread the virus and not know it.

“I think that we still need to understand that when you get the vaccine it does not mean that you are free to just go run around without a mask. I have my mask here,” said Dr. Yvonne Johnson.

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There is a lot of faith in the vaccines and the long range prospects, but there is still much we do not know.

“What we are not sure about, the people who have gotten the vaccine, is whether or not we can still transmit to other people,” said Dr. Johnson.

Simply explained, the vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID. It is believed it protects to the point that if you do get it, the symptoms are so mild you might not notice but you can still carry and transmit COVID.

“What we are sure of about the vaccine is that if you get the vaccine you are not going to get sick enough to have to go to the hospital,” explained Dr. Johnson.

So even if you get vaccinated, by wearing a mask and following the other safety protocols, it protects others from spreading COVID to you, family, friends, and those you have contact with.

“We can feel safe from the extreme consequences of COVID-19, but what we know for sure that the hopes to prevent the spread of it everyone in the community is wearing a mask, stand six feet apart and washing hands frequently,” reminded Dr. Johnson.

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Whether you’ve had the shots or not, wear your mask to protect the community.