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Why Post-Vaccination Masks Remain Important

You’ve gotten your two doses of COVID-19 vaccine! Congratulations! However, for the benefit of our community, please don’t stop wearing your mask just yet. You may ask, “Now that I’ve had my vaccine, aren’t I protected from COVID-19?” The answer is both yes and no.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear to be about 95% effective in preventing people from developing symptomatic COVID-19. Because that’s not 100%, there still are people who can get sick despite having had the vaccine and it’s impossible to tell who they are. We don’t want you to find out you’re one of those people, so please continue to wear your mask.

Keep in mind that the studies only looked at people who got sick with COVID-19. They didn’t look at how many people who were vaccinated could still get infected with the virus but not have symptoms. Recent preliminary studies show that around 25% of vaccinated people can still be infected and may be able to infect others without having any symptoms themselves. It would be terrible if you unknowingly infected someone else who isn’t vaccinated yet, so please continue to wear your mask.

Also, these vaccine studies were done before the new variants started to become widespread. We don’t know how effective the vaccine is in preventing them or new ones that are starting to appear. In fact, there are case reports of people who had been infected with COVID-19 before getting sick with a new strain, so please continue to wear your mask.

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has asked that people continue to wear a mask or face covering until researchers know for sure whether the vaccines prevent people from spreading the virus to others who aren’t vaccinated. You’ll also hear this same caution from myriad other reputable health organizations, including the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.  

Face coverings serve as a barrier that can prevent microscopic droplets from being breathed out and then inhaled by others—particularly to those who haven’t been or are unable to get vaccinated, or those who have weak immune systems and don’t develop a good immune response despite being vaccinated. 

Just like you, we’re eager to move quickly toward a new normal, where everything is open, and masks are no longer necessary. However, most Americans haven’t been vaccinated yet, and the virus is still spreading and mutating despite the recently declining statistics. The end of this pandemic is getting closer, but for now, please—keep wearing your mask!

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