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Have you been vaccinated? Here's Why You Shouldn't Take Your Face Mask Off Just Yet

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

5 reasons to continue wearing a mask, even after you’re vaccinated

Many people are asking when life will return to normal as more people become completely vaccinated. But, before you toss away your face masks ceremoniously, experts advise that we'll need to keep wearing them for a little longer, especially in public.

Face masks and social distancing will be required for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, becoming vaccinated does not automatically imply we can return to our previous lives. The vaccination is now merely another layer of protection against COVID-19 until we achieve some sort of herd immunity.

We'll need to vaccine 50 percent to 80 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity. And, because it will take time to build up vaccine manufacturing and delivery, we advise people to curb down their expectations for a speedy return to normalcy.

There is, however, some good news for individuals who have already completed their vaccinations, but there are some restrictions.

Fully vaccinated persons can now safely meet inside in small groups with other fully vaccinated people — no mask necessary.

However, fully vaccinated individuals should continue and is encourage to wear face masks and keep a safe distance from others in public places. Those who have been completely vaccinated should continue to avoid medium and large gatherings, as well as those who have not been fully vaccinated and are deemed high-risk.

The immunizations are undoubtedly a step in the right direction – and cause for celebration – but we're still not out of the woods.

We explains why it’s important for those who have already been vaccinated to continue wearing a mask:

It takes time for the vaccine to kick in

It will take two weeks following your second dosage of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to attain the approximately 95% efficacy rate.

You do receive a partial immune response after the first dosage, which is excellent news, but it doesn't imply you're protected the moment the needle is inserted into your arm. Two weeks after receiving your single dosage of the vaccine, you are considered completely immunized.

The vaccines do not provide 100% protection

Although the vaccinations are extremely efficient (and the turnaround time was nothing short of miraculous), they only provide 94 percent to 95 percent protection. There's no way of knowing who among the 5% of those who don't respond to the vaccination yet are still at risk for COVID-19. The measles vaccination, on the other hand, is 97 percent effective after two doses. Although the immunization campaign began around 1963, the illness was not declared eradicated until 2000!

Those who have been vaccinated might be asymptomatic spreaders

Vaccines protect against sickness, but further study is needed to see if they also protect against transmission.

Experts are concerned that those who have been vaccinated might still become sick without showing symptoms and then transfer the virus to people who have not yet been immunized.

Experts have been concerned about silent spreaders, or those who are sick but don't display symptoms, since the outbreak began about a year ago.

If persons who have been vaccinated do not continue to wear a face mask until other people have been properly vaccinated, the virus may spread.

Because becoming vaccinated reduces your chances of becoming ill and developing symptoms, it's vital that we safeguard others while they wait for their turn to obtain the vaccination.

Protecting those with compromised immune systems and those who can’t be vaccinated

People with chronic medical illnesses (such as heart disease and cancer) are more likely to have a severe case of COVID-19, according to research.

We can't assume that this cohort will have the same efficacy rate because they weren't part of research studies. You should also avoid getting the vaccination if you've had an adverse response to any of the components in it.

The Ministry of Health advises against taking the second dose if you have an adverse response to the first.

Some pregnant women (who are also at high risk and were excluded from clinical studies) are choosing to not be vaccinated or to get vaccinated after giving birth. If you're completely vaccinated, it's best to avoid those who are deemed high-risk and haven't been vaccinated.

Protecting those that need a booster

While further study is being done, some persons who had the Pfizer vaccination — those over 65 years old, those with underlying medical issues, and those who work in high-risk situations – have been authorized to obtain a booster dose.

Currently, research shows that protection may wane over a period of time, thus the goal is to enhance the immune systems of eligible patients to help protect them against breakthrough instances.

How long should you wear a mask?

Many mask regulations were pushed back as COVID-19 cases declined as immunizations were more widely available across the country.

However, the world as a whole failed to meet the required vaccination rate for herd immunity, and several countries had rates substantially below the national average.

This allowed the virus to continue to circulate and change, resulting in the delta variant surge and now OMICRON, which prompted mask standards to get muddled.

Because many individuals are still unvaccinated and the risk of outbreaks persists, it's advisable to continue wearing a mask even after receiving the vaccine, especially in high-risk scenarios.

Pandemics, however, do not have an expiration date, so this might go longer than we had thought, even with the introduction of vaccinations. For the time being, stick to your local mask requirements and, if required, do what makes you feel the safest.

The vaccine is not an automatic off switch for the pandemic

As much as we'd all like to believe that the vaccination will bring us all back to normal, it won't. We are, nevertheless, on the right track.

Instead, it's now one of the tools in our arsenal for combating the epidemic. We'll need to continue wearing masks in public, washing our hands, avoiding huge groups, and keeping a safe distance from individuals who aren't completely vaccinated.

After enough individuals have been vaccinated and instances and deaths have decreased, mask standards may begin to change, but until then, we must stay alert in our fight against COVID-19.

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