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“When you’re fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said in a media briefing May 13. “We’ve all longed for this moment when we can do that. Back to a sense of normalcy. Based on the ongoing downward trajectory of the cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and our understanding of how the virus is spread. , that time has come for those who are fully vaccinated. ”
This is certainly a joyous announcement and a welcome turn of events. However, there are some caveats to keep in mind, which we’ll explain here.
Who else has to wear a mask in public?
Anyone not considered fully vaccinated should still wear a mask in public places, including outdoor areas that are busy, such as an outdoor concert or sporting event.
This means that you should wear a mask in public if:
- You have not received any doses of a
- You have one dose of the or Covid-19 vaccine
- You have received both doses of your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but you are not past the two weeks after vaccination
- You have finished your dose of vaccine, but have not yet passed the two-week post-vaccination limit
According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear a face mask in most public settings.
Do vaccinated people ever have to wear masks?
Even vaccinated people are still required to wear masks in some settings. Yes, the CDC has stated that once you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask outside, nor in most indoor areas.
“However, this does not apply to public transport or transit hubs such as airplanes, buses and trains, and other busy indoor environments, where all individuals must wear masks regardless of vaccination status,” says Dr. Andrea Love, immunologist, microbiologist, and co. host of the unbiased science podcast.
“This also does not apply to health care facilities,” says Dr. Love. “Private companies also have the option of pursuing their own mask policy [and] you must continue to wear masks based on other federal, state, local, tribal, and business regulations. ”
Is It Safe To Stop Wearing Masks?
“There are endless hypothetical scenarios with levels of risk that vary based on a number of factors, including group size, indoor or outdoor environment, and duration of exposure,” said Dr. Jessica Steier, public health expert and co-host of the Unbiased Science Podcast. “Risks for spreading COVID-19 to unvaccinated people are affected by the number of people, proximity to people, duration of exposure, presence or absence of masks, and ventilation.”
“If you add these contributing factors, even a previously low-risk activity can become a higher risk. So if you are not vaccinated, wearing a mask is critical, as is being aware of the types of interactions. you have with others. ” Steier says.
If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC has deemed it safe to be maskless, apart from a few in particularlike busy indoor environments, Dr. Steier. While it is still unlikely that a fully vaccinated person will be infected, the protection is not perfect. Think of this as wearing a seat belt: a seat belt is an aid that provides incredible protection against serious injury, but it is not a 100% guarantee of no injury. Face masks are the same.
Why vaccinated people still need to wear masks in some places
Remember, businesses and other public institutions rely largely on the honor system here. Now that vaccinated people can enter most places without a mask, unvaccinated people will no doubt take advantage of the new CDC guidelines and stop wearing masks, as there is currently no way to tell who has been vaccinated and who has not.
OnFor example, it is safest to have everyone simply wear a mask during the flight. Because people are so close and the US does not have a vaccine identification system, airlines are forced to assume that some or all of the people on their flights have not been vaccinated. There is simply no telling who exactly. To keep transmission to a minimum, everyone should wear a mask.
“It has been discussedor a centralized vaccination registry that has met with controversy from people who feel it violates our rights, “says Dr. Love.” Proponents argue that there are many cases where we need to prove or be licensed to do something like a driver’s license to drive a vehicle. ”
For example, Estonia has introduced a digital vaccine passport to support the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the secure vaccination certificate, called VaccineGuard, is issued through the country’s national patient portal and is immediately available, allowing the country’s citizens to cross borders with proof of vaccination status. The Israeli “Green Pass” system is similar.
What about kids?
SinceNot yet able to receive the vaccine, it is imperative that we encourage children over the age of 2 to wear masks, especially in schools and during school-related activities, says Dr. Steier.
Transmission of COVID-19 in school is rare, even among close school contacts of those who test positive for the virus, when schools pay attention to public health measures such as mandatory universal masking, social distance and frequent hand washing, according to the results of several studies that across the country, ”she says.
Universal masking at school (including all children over 2 years old) is an important predictor of low school transmission, explains Dr. Steier.
Now the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for emergenciesa larger part of the population can be vaccinated and reduce the risk of virus transmission. However, even children in the age group of 12 to 15 years should still wear masks until they are fully vaccinated.
How to protect yourself and others if you are not vaccinated
If you haven’t been vaccinated, the same COVID-19 precautions still apply. Unvaccinated people should still wear a mask in all public places, including crowded outdoor environments. Follow your state’s public health guidelines to protect yourself and others.
Precautions include wearing a mask (), keep a distance of two meters from others and practice good hand hygiene.
At the moment less thanis currently fully vaccinated, says Dr. Love. “There are outbreaks of outbreaks all over the country, with new variants becoming dominant and also leading to transmission among children. While this new guideline is good news for individuals who may need vaccination incentives, we also need to preserve collective public health. mind. ”
This is especially of the utmost importance to humansbecause of known severe allergies to vaccine ingredients, age, or medical conditions, says Dr. Love. Everyone – vaccinated or not – must take these populations into account.
Dr. Love says that people who fall into these categories should continue to wear masks when in public and try to avoid risky situations like indoor gatherings, especially over an extended period of time.
“In the meantime, our emphasis should be on getting eligible people vaccinated to reduce the overall burden of COVID-19 and make the virus less likely to transmit,” she emphasizes.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.