Do you still need to wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated?

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A year ago, it was almost impossible to open Facebook FB, + 0.63%, Twitter TWTR, -0.45% or Instagram without seeing photos and posts asking you to stay home and wear a mask in public. Today, social media platforms are full of vaccine selfies, family gatherings, and information on getting an appointment for vaccines, as all Americans age 16 and older are eligible.

Above all this there are questions like: “If I am fully vaccinated, why do I still need to wear a mask?” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, responded to one such tweet: CDC’s guide to people who are fully vaccinated, meaning they received their final dose of vaccine at least two weeks ago, is that they do not need to wear a mask indoors when socializing in small groups among other people who have also been fully vaccinated. Additionally, fully vaccinated individuals may visit an unvaccinated home “without masks or within 6 feet of distance, unless one of those individuals or anyone they live with is at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19,” according to CDC guidance. The risk of spreading COVID in any of those scenarios is relatively low, according to the CDC and infectious disease experts. But things get more complicated indoors, where the risk of the coronavirus spreading and contracting is considerably higher than outdoors, where potentially viral droplets have more room to disperse.

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“‘Being outdoors doesn’t magically eliminate that risk.’ ”- Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Still, “being outdoors doesn’t magically make that risk go away,” said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Fully vaccinated people can carry the virus, but they are very unlikely to get sick,” Dr. Victoria Ward, a Stanford University clinical professor and pediatrician, told MarketWatch. “In general, the risk of outdoor transmission from fully vaccinated people is extremely low. It is certainly not zero, but it is low enough that the benefits of easing the mandate outweigh the risks from a public health perspective, “he added.

“‘Fully vaccinated people can still carry the virus, but they are unlikely to get sick from it.’ ”- Dr. Victoria Ward, Stanford University Clinical Professor and Pediatrician

Since more than 70% of the total US population is not yet fully vaccinated, it is important to keep the use of masks as a “social norm” in places like supermarkets, hair salons and airplanes, Rutherford said. So if not now, when? When at least 60% of the population is fully vaccinated, by which time we would be “getting closer to herd immunity,” states and cities could safely consider mask-lifting mandates, he said. But that probably won’t happen until children and teens can get vaccinated. The Food and Drug Administration is considering PFizer’s request, + 0.05% from Pfizer to expand the emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. Rutherford hopes the agency will approve the application in a couple of weeks. ” 13 states have lifted mask mandates. Already 13 states, including Texas and New Hampshire, have lifted their mask mandates statewide. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, lifted the state’s mask mandate in early March against the advice of leading infectious disease experts as well as President Joe Biden, who called the move “a huge mistake. “which reflected” Neanderthal thinking. ” The state has not seen a significant increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases since the mask’s mandate was lifted, according to data released by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“‘The best way to forget about masks is to vaccinate more people'” – Dr. Amesh Adalja, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

That doesn’t mean it’s safe to start ditching masks entirely, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety and a spokesperson for the American Society for Infectious Diseases. “The fact that there is no mask mandate does not mean that people do not wear masks,” he said. In addition to the voluntary use of masks, many people in Texas, which has the third highest number of coronavirus deaths in all states, likely have developed “natural immunity” in addition to “vaccine-induced immunity,” Adalja told MarketWatch. . In theory, Adalja said it would be an “acceptable risk” to let vaccinated people give up masks, but said it is not “operationally possible” to separate vaccinated from unvaccinated people to minimize the risk of spreading COVID. Of the 55.7 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated, about 67% are white and not Hispanic, according to CDC data as of Monday. “The best way to forget about masks,” said Adalja, “is to vaccinate more people.”