Dr. Bow Tie
COVID-19 and Vaccinations: New CDC Recommendations (Originally on FB May 14, 2021)
So the CDC says that fully-vaccinated people can stop wearing masks indoors and outdoors. Great!
Here’s the thing. Less than 40% of the US population is currently fully vaccinated/immunized (2 weeks after their last dose) as I write this. That’s over 60% still vulnerable. The CDC is relaxing these guidelines to encourage vaccinations (“see what we can start to do again?”). In my opinion, it would have been better to wait until we had hit a higher threshold of %vaccinated, but no one asked me, of course. (Update 5/19: It would have been helpful to provide businesses with guidelines and rules regarding asking people about their vaccination status. That is perfectly legal as a safety measure and it would have been good to get out in front of those who would try to twist HIPAA (often misspelling it) and other laws to justify not showing proof of vaccination and/or masking). The best way to make this a truly comfortable recommendation? Get more people vaccinated! Including the kids (see my previous post)!
If you are not vaccinated (or are still within 2 weeks of your final dose), you should still wear a mask, both to protect yourself and others, especially indoors.
If you are not yet vaccinated (and even if you are), keep in mind:
1. Even if you do not have symptoms, there is no way to know if, after exposure, you are asymptomatic or presymptomatic (more likely to spread). 2. You know people that are not yet or cannot yet get vaccinated, including children under twelve. Those people can spread it, too, whether from you or to you. 3. Not every vaccinated person mounts the same response, so a small number of vaccinated people can still get COVID-19 (it’s rare, but it’s happened).
A related note: this relaxation on masking does not apply to crowded areas like airports/other transit hubs, planes/buses/trains/other public transit, or healthcare settings. It also does not undo state or establishment-implemented rules.
Finally, masks work for other things, too. Flu is at an all time low. I have not had my annual cold in the past year (*knock on wood*).
If someone around you (even if vaccinated) is wearing a mask, that’s still okay…it’s still worthwhile. Whether for the reasons above or simply because we have just been through what, for some of us, was the worst or scariest year of our lives, people will approach mask relaxation at their own pace and that is okay.
So if you’re unvaccinated or vaccinated/immunized-but-uncomfortable, keep wearing your mask. Regardless of vaccination, keep maintaining distance from strangers (until more/all people able to do so are vaccinated) and keep washing your hands, for others as much as yourself. And if you haven’t yet, get your vaccine!