People are confused about what does getting vaccinated really bring to the table? Can they go back to their normal lives – no mask, no social distancing, no fist bumps – or is it just another layer of protection?
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
An individual is fully vaccinated after 2 weeks of getting his/her second dose (for 2-vaccines with 2-dose series) or single-dose vaccine.
In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicated in their guidelines that those who were fully vaccinated by either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna can go back to their normal lives and do the normal outdoor and indoor activities they do before. Why did CDC come up with this?
- The two mentioned vaccines were found to be 95.3% effective after both shots. This seemed to be accurate because in Texas and California, only 0.05% of fully vaccinated healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
- To incentivize the people who got fully vaccinated and build an encouragement to others to do the same.
For some countries, like Israel, who have allowed removing masks outdoors, there’s another reason why they lowered their face mask restrictions; having achieved the herd immunity stage – vaccination of 50-80% of a country’s population.
What are the risks of not wearing a face mask for a fully vaccinated individual?
It is given that no vaccine can grant you 100% protection from COVID-19 infection. It only reduces your risk 25-30x higher and ensures that the infection will not become serious. The best example is the New York Yankees who were all vaccinated but still got 8 of its member and staff infected with COVID-19. Another great example is that all of them were fine and none of the team members were hospitalized.
Transmitting the virus
Experts say that the vaccine reduces the chance of spreading the virus. However, as we have mentioned in our recent COVID-19 Vaccine Guide, a fully vaccinated individual can still inhale the virus and transfers it to another person who does not have the protection [vaccine]. Yes, you can be confident that your immune system will successfully fight off that virus, and there are proofs for that, but there is no strong proof that that virus present in your respiratory tract will not infect others when you speak, sneeze or cough?
When can you fully take off your mask?
There is no exact rule when it is completely safe to remove your mask in the public. Colleen Kelly, MD, a principal investigator for the Moderna and Novavax phase III clinical trials at the Ponce de Leon Clinical Research Site, said that fully vaccinated individuals can remove their masks when they’re around people who are also vaccinated.
However, even the CDC who has updated their guidelines mentioned that people vaccinated people must follow masking if it is required by your workplace management or local authorities. And as for those living in the UAE, following the COVID19 safety protocols are still mandatory.
Everybody is hoping that soon, everything will go back to normal. It will happen but, until the immunity-compromised are safe, wearing a mask is still crucial.
So what does the vaccine do really?
It is true that everyone is exhausted with the restrictions and limitations that the pandemic is causing. However, having the chance to get less likely to be infected, less likely to infect others, and less likely to get hospitalized is a hundred times better than nothing.
Following the safety measures is still essential for vaccinated people to keep others who are deprived of the protection safe.