As we juggle trying to get back to our normal lives while reading about rising COVID-19 cases in different areas, many vaccinated people want to know if they should keep wearing a mask.
While it may be inconvenient, the CDC recommends that vaccinated individuals wear a mask in public places.
Because of the new variants, such as the Delta Variant, transmission tends to be unaffected by vaccination status. The best way to protect yourself and others is by wearing a mask.
How do viruses spread?
Viruses are the most prevalent biological organism on earth, far outnumbering any other organism we know. Viruses spread by infecting a host and begin multiplying themselves millions of times.
Once a person is infected with a virus, they can spread the virus to other human hosts in various ways, like sneezing, coughing, and sometimes even contact with skin.
Once a virus infects another host, the process is repeated repeatedly, infecting as many people as it can.
What is a vaccine?
The World Health Organization defines a vaccine as “a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting you against harmful diseases before you come into contact with them.”
Vaccines essentially work by training your body to prepare and fight off a virus with antibodies by giving you a small piece of the virus itself.
The COVID-19 vaccines available today are effective at easing the symptoms and slowing the spread of COVID-19. However, with the spread of new variants of the COVID virus, transmission is still possible, even with vaccinated individuals.
Masks and virus transmission
Masks are the easiest and most effective method of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Wearing a mask reduces your risk of contracting the virus by 65%.
As tired as we all may be of wearing masks, the healthcare system is overwhelmed; masks are the best way to “flatten the curve.”
As studies have shown with air pollution, wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE, is the best way to filter out impurities in the air, including viruses.
Since it is still possible for vaccinated individuals to contract COVID-19, wearing a mask is highly recommended in public places.
When should you wear a mask?
The CDC recommends that people still wear masks, vaccinated or not, especially if:
- If you or someone in your household is immunocompromised
- People who are at risk for severe disease
- People who are overweight
- Individuals with diabetes
- Individuals with heart conditions
Along with following applicable federal, state, and local laws, the CDC recommends wearing a mask in any public indoor spaces and even outdoor spaces, which present a higher chance of transmission since the concentration of people in an area is directly related to an increase in transmissions.
Should vaccinated people wear a mask?
Because of the rise invariants of COVID-19 like the Delta Variant, it is also recommended that vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks in public indoor spaces.
The Delta Variant, first discovered in January 2021, is a more contagious version of the COVID virus and has been known to infect vaccinated individuals. Another concern with the Delta Variant is that vaccinated people can still contract the virus and spread it to others, even while vaccinated individuals exhibit no symptoms.
Fortunately, vaccinated individuals are thought to be contagious for a shorter amount of time. However, since transmission is still possible, it is highly recommended that vaccinated individuals wear a mask.
Wearing a mask is the best way to reduce viral transmission, whether you are vaccinated or not.
What kind of mask should you choose?
There are so many different types of masks available on the market. While some masks may be more comfortable or more fashionable than others, it doesn’t always mean that those are the safest masks for you to use.
The masks you use must be safe, effective, and protective to protect yourself and your business best.
The CDC recommends that you choose a mask that:
- Has two or more layers of fabric
- It is made of fabric that is washable and breathable
- Completely cover your nose and mouth
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face, without gaps
- Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
Wearing a mask that fits on your face without leaks is the only effective type of mask. Ineffective masks have little to no benefit in regards to viral transmission.
Additionally, you should not choose masks that:
- Make it difficult to breathe
- Have vents, which allow virus particles to escape
- Should be reserved for healthcare workers, like N95 respirators
- Fit incorrectly
- Allow air to pass between your face and the mask
Wearing a mask that doesn’t create an efficient seal around your nose and mouth is just as effective as not wearing a mask at all. Additionally, wearing masks that are too breathable, such as masks with vents, does nothing to prevent viral transmission.
*Masks such as vented masks, face masks, and single-layer fabric masks do not help slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Therefore, they should not be permitted for employees to wear in the workplace, even if the employees wearing them are vaccinated.
Choosing the right mask is important, whether you are vaccinated or not, if you wish to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and keep yourself and those around you safe.
In conclusion, everyone, including vaccinated individuals, should continue to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Wearing a well-fitting, breathable mas.k is crucial to minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
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