Do fully vaccinated people have to continue to wear masks? The experts intervene.



More than 156 million people in the United States have been fully immunized. But even though Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective against all known variants of the coronavirus, including the highly transmissible delta variant which spreads quickly, some communities and doctors are calling for a return to masking.

St. Louis County and City Public Health Departments on Thursday issued a warning about the spread of the delta variant and advised a return to masks indoors, even if they are vaccinated. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department announced that it “strongly recommends” that everyone wear a mask indoors after an increase in cases.

But despite a slowdown in the vaccination rate and the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in the United States, there is no indication that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will again recommend masks for fully vaccinated people for the entire population. country.

“If you are vaccinated you have a very high level of protection against all of the variants that we know of circulating in the United States,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told NBC News.

When would the masks be needed?

In areas with low vaccination rates, a return to indoor masks, even for those vaccinated, may be appropriate, Walensky said. Nationally, just over 55% of Americans eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine have been fully vaccinated.

Do whatever it takes to make Covid go away.

“If you are in a community that has a large number of diseases and less than a third of your population is vaccinated, you have to ask yourself if the policy should be to hide,” Walensky said. Masking is “more about protecting two-thirds of the community who are not vaccinated.”

Currently, about 1,000 counties in the United States have vaccine coverage below 30 percent, she said.

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In Wyoming, for example, just over 31 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health. This means that the vast majority of residents – 69% – remain susceptible to Covid-19. That’s why Dr. Andy Dunn, family physician and chief of staff at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, wants those vaccinated to continue wearing makeup.

“These variants are going to find a way” to survive, said Dunn.

“Do whatever it takes to make Covid go away,” he added. “If I had to jump on my left foot five times a day, I would.”

Can you contract Covid-19 if you are fully vaccinated?

No vaccine can stop all transmission of a virus. Although rare, it is possible for people who are fully vaccinated to become infected with Covid-19. A recent outbreak of Covid-19 cases associated with the delta variant in Israel included many people who had been fully vaccinated, for example.

These are called breakthrough infections, and they are usually mild.

Can fully vaccinated people transmit Covid-19 to others?

The best guess in science right now is “maybe”.

“There are no studies that look at people vaccinated and their asymptomatic carriage rate with the delta variant,” said Dr Hugh Cassiere, director of intensive care services at Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital, in Long Island, New York. York.

“That’s the scary part,” Cassiere said. “Delta has such a high rate of infectivity.”

While those who have been vaccinated can be protected personally, a mask protects vulnerable people, including those who are not vaccinated, people with weakened immune systems, and children under 12.

“A mask reduces your infectivity for me and mine for you. It’s two-way,” said Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine.

Masks were considered very effective in slowing the spread of the virus last fall, but that was before widespread access to vaccines.

Still, “if we’re dealing with something more transferable,” Wolfe said, referring to the delta variant, “I think you’d want a little more protection.”

Experts say it may be time to renormalize mask wear for the benefit of all.

“The people critical for having masks are the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Marybeth Sexton, assistant professor of infectious diseases in Emory University School of Medicine. “But sometimes I think it’s probably necessary for everyone to mask themselves to achieve this.”

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Some doctors dealing with severe cases of Covid-19 are also encouraging universal use of the mask not necessarily for less risky outdoor gatherings, such as July 4th barbecues and poolside parties, but for more indoor areas. crowded, where customers probably don’t know who they’re sharing a space with, like a movie theater.

These are “higher risk situations,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, director of medical operations at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City. “With so many unknowns now, it’s safe to wear a mask. I certainly do.”

There is also no indication that wearing a mask causes physical damage.

“We’ve been doing it for the past 12 months pretty solidly,” Wolfe said. “It’s not that hard.”

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