With the news of COVID-19 vaccines passing trials, many people are wondering the same thing: Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine? Mandatory mask wearing is likely to continue for a while until public restrictions are removed and we see better progress in the race to control the global pandemic.
The short answer given by many health professionals is that even vaccinated people must wear a mask because while the vaccine may protect someone from getting sick, it is still possible that someone could carry the virus and be contagious to other people.
There are a number of reasons given by health professionals as to why we need to continue wearing masks and following health guidelines for the next while, even as the vaccine begins to be distributed. By wearing masks, we can continue to keep our communities safe by helping to prevent further virus transmissions.
Wear a mask while waiting for more people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
Even though some people are beginning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the majority of the population has yet to be immunized, meaning that the virus can currently still be carried and spread by infected individuals. Dr. Leana Wen, CNN’s medical analyst, states that at least 70% of the population must be vaccinated before we can be sure that the virus will not continue to spread.
Health experts agree that it will be a while before everyone can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as it takes time to manufacture and deliver. It could take months for the shots to be administered to the population, especially with millions of people needing the vaccine.
High-risk individuals such as health care workers are given priority for the vaccine, meaning that it may take some time until the COVID-19 vaccine is available to the public. Until then, it’s important to continue wearing a mask until more people have been vaccinated to help keep you and others safe while the virus is still around.
Wear a mask while waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine to arrive
The Coronavirus vaccine is a special case in that it must be kept in a frozen condition before use. In order to retain effectiveness, it must be shipped and stored in subzero temperatures in special freezers. Many hospitals do not readily have these freezers as most drugs do not require freezing, with the exception to certain vaccines such as chickenpox.
In addition to the quick testing and manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmaceutical industries must figure out fast and cost-effective ways to implement temperature-controlling technology in order to get the vaccine out efficiently. The speed at which vaccines can be delivered may depend on the efficiency of their production and shipping process. Wearing a mask is a way to continue protecting yourself until the vaccine becomes more available.
Wear a mask while waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine to reach its potential
Vaccines teach the immune system how to fight certain viruses. However, they are not an “instant cure” as the human body requires time to produce its protective measures.
Timing is especially important with the Coronavirus vaccines, currently manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, which require two shots to be administered over the period of several weeks. Although the first dose grants some protection, it takes a few weeks after the second shot to develop immunity.
While waiting for your body to develop a response to COVID-19, you can still be at risk of being infected and spreading it to others. It’s important to keep using masks even if you’ve received the vaccine, especially because you won’t know what stage of immunity others in your community have reached.
Why vaccinated people still need to wear a mask
The quick arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine is welcome news, though some uncertainty remains with how safe the current vaccines are. Dr. Mark Kortepeter, an infectious disease expert, states that due to the speed of which the vaccine was made available, there hasn’t been any long-term research conducted on how well the vaccine prevents the virus, or how long it lasts in the immune system.
The vaccine can stop you from experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill, but may not prevent infection, meaning that those who are vaccinated can unknowingly still carry and spread the virus. Although this vaccine may offer personal protection for the majority of the population, it still poses a risk for people in the community who haven’t received the vaccine.
Until researchers have a better understanding of the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of disease, it’s best to continue relying on masks to stay safe.
Wear a mask to protect people who can’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine
While the vaccine is understood to be the most important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we need to keep in mind that some people cannot get vaccinated due to medical conditions that could put them at further risk. Wearing a mask is a way to continue ensuring that vulnerable members of your community can be safe.
In addition, a Coronavirus vaccine has not yet been developed for children. Vaccines need to be formulated differently for children because kids’ immune systems react differently to adult-oriented vaccines. There also isn’t as much research being conducted on COVID-19 vaccines for children, as most research and testing has been done on the adult immune system’s reaction to the vaccine. It’s best to keep wearing a mask to ensure that children can stay healthy in the time that it takes for them to be able to receive a vaccine too.
Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a vaccine for COVID-19? In short, the answer is no in the meantime. Even as the vaccine arrives and is distributed, it will take a long time before we can fully rely on it to keep society safe. It’s important to continue wearing masks to help prevent getting and potentially spreading COVID-19. It’s equally important to keep following guidelines set by health authorities.