Should vaccinated people start wearing masks again?

As Delta variants spread to unvaccinated people, many wholly vaccinated people are also beginning to worry. Is it time to mask again?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, but most experts agree that masks remain a wise precaution in both vaccinated and non-vaccinated specific settings. The frequency of using masks depends on the individual’s health tolerance and risk, community infection and vaccination rates, and who they are spending time with.

The point is: Full vaccination protects you from serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19, but no vaccine offers 100 percent protection. As long as a large number of people continue to spread the coronavirus unvaccinated, vaccinated people will be exposed to the delta mutant and only a few of them will develop so-called breakthrough infections. Here are answers to common questions about how to protect yourself and reduce the risk of breakthrough infections.

To determine if you need a mask, first ask yourself these questions.

  • Are the people I’m with also vaccinated?

  • What are the case rates and vaccination rates in my community?

  • Are you in a poorly ventilated indoor space or are you outdoors? Does the increased risk of exposure last for minutes or hours?

  • What is my personal risk (or the risk of those around me) to complications from Covid-19?

Experts agree that if everyone with you is vaccinated and has no symptoms, you do not need to wear a mask.

“I don’t wear a mask hanging around with other vaccinated people,” he said. Dr. Ashish K. Jar, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, Brown University. “I don’t even think about it. I go to the office with lots of people, and they’re all vaccinated. Don’t worry.”

But once you start stepping into a closed public space where you’re likely to encounter unvaccinated people, masks are probably a good idea. Full vaccination remains the strongest defense against Covid-19, but the risk is cumulative. The more you give the virus the opportunity to challenge antibodies built from the vaccine, the higher the risk that the virus will come into contact with exposure large enough to break through the protective barrier provided by the immune system.

Therefore, community case rates and vaccination rates are one of the most important factors influencing the need for masks. For example, in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, more than 70% of adults are fully vaccinated. In Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas, less than 45% of adults are vaccinated.Overall in some counties The vaccination rate is much lower.

Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Vaccine Development Center at the Texas Children’s Hospital, said: In Harris County, Texas, where Dr. Hotez lives, the number of cases has increased, increasing by 114% in the last two weeks, and only 44% of the community is fully vaccinated. “I wear masks indoors most of the time,” said Dr. Hotez.

Finally, masking is more important in poorly ventilated indoor spaces than outdoors, where the risk of infection is very low. Dr. Jar said he recently took off his mask and jumped into a coffee shop because of the high vaccination rates in his area and only a few minutes there.

Your personal risk is also important. In older people and those with weakened immunity, the antibody response to the vaccine may not be as strong as in younger people. If you are indoors and do not know the vaccination status of the people around you, it is recommended to avoid crowded areas and wear a mask.

Using the Times Tracker, Vaccination rate Case rate for your area.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccinated people have announced that they can stop wearing masks, The number of cases has decreased, vaccination has increased, and highly infectious delta mutants have not yet been established. Since then, the delta has spread rapidly and now accounts for more than 83 percent of cases.

People infected with the delta mutant are known to release much higher levels of the virus for extended periods of time compared to early strains of coronavirus. In one preliminary study, the viral load of people with the delta mutation was estimated to be 1,000 times higher. These high viral loads increase the chances that the virus will challenge the antibody and break through vaccine protection.

“This is twice as contagious as Covid’s original strain,” said Dr. Hotez. “The number of virus reproductions is about 6,” he said, referring to the number of people who could be infected by the virus carrier. “That is, 85% of the population needs to be vaccinated. Only a few parts of the country have reached it.”

The answer depends on your personal risk tolerance and the level of vaccination and Covid-19 cases in your community. The longer you spend in a closed space with unvaccinated people, the higher your risk of going through paths where delta and other variants can occur.

Larger gatherings, by definition, have an increased chance of being infected with the coronavirus, even if they are vaccinated.scientist Recorded a breakthrough infection At a recent wedding in Oklahoma and a celebration of July 4th in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

However, even with the delta variant, complete vaccination appears to be about 90% effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization due to Covid-19. However, if the risk of complications from Covid-19 is very high, you should avoid dangerous situations and consider wearing a mask if you are uncertain about the immunization status of those around you.

Healthy vaccinated people with a low risk of complications need to determine the level of personal risk they can tolerate. Wearing a mask at a large indoor rally reduces the risk of infection. When deciding whether to attend an event or wear a mask if you are healthy and vaccinated, but care for older parents or spend time with other high-risk people In addition, their risks also need to be considered.

“When I go to public places, I usually wear a mask,” said Dr. Hotez. “Until recently, I took my son and his girlfriend to dinner at a restaurant, and I didn’t wear a mask because the communication was so low. I’m not sure now. Delta While accelerating, I may readjust my thoughts on restaurants. “

Breakthrough infections get a lot of attention as vaccinated people talk about them on social media. When a cluster of breakthrough infections occurs, they are also reported in scientific journals and the media.

However, although groundbreaking cases are relatively rare, it is important to remember that any vaccine can cause it.

“No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing illness in vaccinated people,” the CDC said on its website. “There is a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who are still ill, hospitalized, or dying from Covid-19.”

The breakthrough case does not mean that the vaccine is not working. In fact, most breakthrough infections are asymptomatic or have only mild illness. This shows that the vaccine is effective in preventing serious illnesses caused by Covid-19.

As of July 12 Over 159 million people In the United States, Covid-19 was completely vaccinated. Of these, only 5,492 had breakthrough cases that caused serious illness. Includes 1,063 people who died. This is less than 0.0007 percent of the vaccinated population. On the other hand, 99% of deaths from Covid-19 are unvaccinated.

Many infectious disease professionals are dissatisfied with the CDC recording only when a person vaccinated with Covid-19 is hospitalized or dies. However, many breakthrough infections are still detected in asymptomatic people who are frequently tested, such as baseball players and Olympic athletes. Many of them travel or spend long periods of time in densely populated areas with others.

“Sports numbers are different,” said Dr. Jha. “Part of the problem is that we are also encountering many unvaccinated people, including their own small circles.”

If you are fully vaccinated and know that you have been infected with Covid-19, it is recommended that you be tested even if you are asymptomatic.

Also, if there are symptoms of a cold or other signs of infection, the expert agrees that you should be tested. Many vaccinated people who do not wear masks I caught a summer cold Causes runny nose, fever and cough. However, it is impossible to tell the difference between a summer cold and Covid-19. People with coughing or cold symptoms should wear a mask to protect others and take a test to rule out Covid-19.It is recommended to keep some I also have a home Covid test.

“When I woke up one morning and had a cold, I put on a mask at home and had my own test,” said Dr. Ja. “I don’t want to cause a breakthrough infection to other members of the family, and I don’t want to infect a 9-year-old child.”

Should vaccinated people start wearing masks again?

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