Paradigm shift in the COVID conversation -- from testing to vaccines

Medical experts are pushing the public to get fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible; a very different message compared to several months ago when people were getting tested and staying home.

"The tests were really critical four or five months ago to really try to control the epidemic, now we have the vaccines and as a greater number of people get vaccinated the importance of the testing is really starting to decline, at least from a public health standpoint," said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a public health professor and infectious disease researcher at the University of South Florida. "We really want to emphasize now getting the vaccines and getting people protected and not trying to just say, well, are you infected or not." 

Tampa International Airport announced this week that the rapid COVID testing site will be closing on May 7 due to a decrease in demand.

Health experts say COVID testing is only staying relevant for international travel.

"A lot of countries are still behind the curve, a lot places are still requiring testing, you have to have proof of a negative test to get off the airplane in France or England and many other places for example," Dr. Unnasch said.

Dr. Unnasch says data from a recently conducted study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that fully vaccinated people cannot be severely infected nor can they spread the virus to someone else.  He anticipates the United States achieving herd immunity by the end of June, so people will be able to be back together for the 4th of July.