CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As many vaccinated people start to resume normal activities, in-person, maskless, and without social distancing concerns, some are experiencing something they have not felt in more than a year. They are getting sick.
It isn't with COVID-19, but rather, with run-of-the-mill colds and other viruses.
One Twitter user, @ventrebleu, lamented the "irony," writing, "I'm now fully vaccinated and I have a cold."
Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist with Novant Health, said some people's good stretch with no illness is coming to an end.
"I've run into many people who said, 'I haven't had a cold in a year and a half. I haven't been sick at all,' and they were masking all that time," Priest said.
Priest said as masking and social distancing go by the wayside, so do two measures that protected against more than just COVID-19.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director for South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, said those protocols made a tangible difference in how many people got sick with other illnesses over the past year.
"You can look at flu numbers from this past flu season to see that, and that is because all these protective measures for COVID-19 were also protective against other respiratory viruses," Traxler said.
Traxler thinks levels of other viruses are probably no higher than what the baseline is, but notes that getting sick might feel more notable now.
"It's just that it is a difference now to us, after a year of shielding ourselves from exposure," Traxler said.
Priest hopes people remember they can go back to shielding, as necessary, taking protocols from the pandemic that are useful.
"I hope what will happen is that will spark a movement in society to say, 'Hey, if I'm not feeling great, I'm going to mask... Hey, I have a cold. It's not serious, but I don't want to spread it because we recognize how well masking and distancing work," Priest said.