Should People With Covid-19 Vaccine Start Wearing Masks Again?


As the delta variant spreads among the unvaccinated, many fully vaccinated people are also starting to worry. Time to mask again?

While there is no single answer to this question, most experts agree that masks remain a wise precaution in certain settings, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. How often you use the mask will depend on your personal health tolerance and risk, infection and vaccination rates in your community, and who you spend time with.

The bottom line is this: While getting a full vaccine protects against serious illness and hospitalizations from Covid-19, no vaccine provides 100 percent protection. As long as large numbers of people remain unvaccinated and continue to spread the coronavirus, vaccinated people will be exposed to the Delta variant, and a small percentage of them will develop so-called breakthrough infections. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about how to protect yourself and reduce your risk of a breakthrough infection.

To decide whether a mask is necessary, first ask yourself these questions.

  • Do the people I’m with have vaccinations as well?

  • What is the case rate and vaccination rate in my community?

  • Will I be in a poorly ventilated indoor or outdoor area? Will the increased risk of exposure last for a few minutes or hours?

  • What is my personal risk (or risk to those around me) for Covid-19 complications?

Experts agree that you don’t need to wear a mask if everyone you’re with is vaccinated and symptom-free.

“I don’t wear a mask that fits with other vaccinated people,” he said. Ashish K. JhaDean of the School of Public Health at Brown University. “I’m not even thinking about it. I’m going to the office with a bunch of people and they’re all vaccinated. I’m not worried about that.”

But when you start going into closed public spaces where you have a higher chance of meeting unvaccinated people, a mask is probably a good idea. Being fully vaccinated remains the strongest protection against Covid-19, but the risk is cumulative. The more opportunities you give the virus to challenge the antibodies you have created from your vaccine, the higher your risk of coming into contact with an exposure large enough for the virus to break through the protective barrier provided by your immune system.

For this reason, the case rate and vaccination rate of your community are one of the most important factors affecting the need for masks. For example, in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, more than 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. Less than 45 percent of adults in Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas are vaccinated. In some counties general Vaccination rates are much lower.

D., dean of the Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital. “We are now two Covid nations,” said Peter Hotez. Dr. In Harris County, Texas, where Hotez lives, cases have risen 114 percent in the past two weeks, with only 44 percent of the population fully vaccinated. Dr. “I wear a mask indoors most of the time,” Hotez said.

Finally, masking is more important in poorly ventilated indoor spaces than outdoors, where the risk of infection is extremely low. Jah notes that he had recently burst into a cafe without a mask because vaccination rates are high in his area and he was only there for a few minutes.

Your personal risk is also important. If you are older or have a weakened immune system, your antibody response to the vaccine may not be as strong as the response in a younger person. It is a good idea to avoid crowds and to wear a mask indoors and without knowing the vaccination status of those around you.

Use the Times tracker to find it. vaccination rates and case rates in your area.

When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people can stop wearing masksCase numbers were falling, vaccines were rising, and the highly contagious Delta variant had yet to spread. Since then, Delta has spread rapidly and now accounts for more than 83 percent of cases in the United States.

People infected with the delta variant are known to spread much higher levels of the virus over longer periods of time compared to previous generations of the coronavirus. One preliminary study estimated that the viral load was 1,000 times higher in people with the Delta variant. These high viral loads give the virus more opportunity to challenge your antibodies and bypass the protection of your vaccine.

Dr. “This is twice as contagious as the original strain of Covid,” Hotez said. “The reproduction number of the virus is around 6,” he said, referring to the number of people the virus carrier is likely to infect. “This means that 85 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated. Only a few areas of the country are getting it.”

The answer depends on your personal risk tolerance and the level of vaccinations and Covid-19 cases in your community. The more time you spend indoors with unvaccinated people for extended periods of time, the higher your risk of crossing paths with the Delta variant or other variants that may arise.

By definition, large gatherings offer more opportunities to catch the coronavirus, even if you’ve been vaccinated. scientists There are documented breakthrough infections At a recent wedding in Oklahoma and Mass. At the 4th of July celebrations in Provincetown.

But even with the Delta variant, full vaccination appears to be about 90 percent effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19. However, if you are at very high risk for Covid-19 complications, you should consider avoiding risky situations and wearing a mask when the vaccination status of those around you is unknown.

Healthy vaccinated persons at low risk of complications should decide what personal level of risk they are willing to tolerate. Wearing a mask in larger indoor gatherings will reduce the risk of infection. If you are healthy and vaccinated but are caring for an aging parent or spending time with others at high risk, you should consider their risk when deciding to attend an event or wear a mask.

Dr. “I usually wear a mask if I go into a public area,” Hotez said. “Until recently, I took my son and his girlfriend out to dinner at a restaurant and wasn’t wearing a mask because the transmission was so low. I’m not so sure now. As the delta accelerates, I can recalibrate my thinking about restaurants.”

Breakthrough infections get a lot of attention because people who have been vaccinated talk about them on social media. When breakthrough infection clusters occur, they are also reported in scientific journals or the media.

However, it is important to remember that although breakthrough cases are relatively rare, they can still occur no matter what vaccine you receive.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing disease in vaccinated people,” the CDC says on its website. “There will still be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who get sick, are hospitalized, or die from Covid-19.”

A breakthrough case doesn’t mean your vaccine didn’t work. In fact, most cases of breakthrough infections show no symptoms or result in only mild illness; which means that vaccines work well to prevent serious illness from Covid-19.

As of 12 July, more than 159 million people He was fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States. Of these, only 5,492 had breakthrough cases that resulted in serious illness. Including 1,063 who died. That’s less than 0.0007 percent of the vaccinated population. Meanwhile, 99 percent of deaths from Covid-19 are among the unvaccinated.

Many infectious disease experts were frustrated that the CDC only documented cases where a person vaccinated with Covid-19 was hospitalized or died. But many breakthrough infections are still detected in asymptomatic people who are often tested, such as baseball players and Olympic athletes. Many of these people travel or spend a long time in close quarters with others.

Dr. “Sports figures are different,” Jha said. “Part of the problem is that they encounter a lot of unvaccinated people, including in their own small circle.”

If you have all your vaccinations and know you’ve been exposed to someone with Covid-19, it’s a good idea to get tested even if you don’t have symptoms.

If you have cold symptoms or other signs of infection, experts agree that you should get tested. Many vaccinated people not wearing masks summer got a cold causes runny nose, fever and cough. However, it is impossible to tell the difference between the summer cold and Covid-19. Anyone with cough or cold symptoms should wear a mask to protect those around them and get tested to rule out Covid-19. It’s a good idea to keep a few. home Covid tests are also at hand.

Dr. “If I woke up one morning and had cold symptoms, I would wear a mask at home and have myself tested,” Jha said. “I don’t want to cause breakthrough infections for other members of my family, and I don’t want to pass this on to my 9-year-old.”


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