As the delta variant spreads to non-vaccinated people, many fully vaccinated people are also becoming concerned. Is it time to mask again?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, most experts agree that masks are a wise precaution in some settings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated. How often you use a mask will depend on your individual health tolerance and risk, infection and vaccination rates in your community, and who you are spending time with.
The bottom line is this: While thorough vaccination protects against serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19, no vaccine provides 100 percent protection. As long as large numbers of people remain unvaccinated and continue to spread the coronavirus, vaccinated people will be exposed to the delta variant, and a small percentage of them will develop so-called breakthrough infections. Here are answers to common questions about how you can protect yourself and reduce your risk for a successful infection.
When should the vaccinated person wear a mask?
To decide whether a mask is needed or not, first ask yourself these questions.
Have the people I’m with also been vaccinated?
What is the case rate and vaccination rate in my community?
Will I be in a poorly ventilated indoor location, or outside? Will the increased risk of exposure persist for a few minutes or even hours?
What is my personal risk (or risk to those around me) for complications from COVID-19?
Experts agree that if everyone with you has been vaccinated and has no symptoms, you don’t need to wear a mask.
“I don’t wear a mask walking around with other vaccinated people,” said Dr. Ashish K JhaDean of Brown University School of Public Health. “I don’t even think about it. I’m going to the office with a bunch of people, and they’re all vaccinated. I’m not worried about it.”
But once you start venturing into enclosed public places, where you’re more likely to meet unvaccinated people, a mask is probably a good idea. Being fully vaccinated is the strongest protection against COVID-19, but the risk is cumulative. The more opportunities you give to the virus to challenge the antibodies produced by your vaccine, the higher your risk of being exposed to a large enough exposure that the virus will break the protective barrier provided by your immune system.
For this reason, your community’s case rate and vaccination rate are one of the most important factors influencing the need for masks. For example, in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, more than 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. In Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, less than 45 percent of adults are vaccinated. In some counties, the overall vaccination rate is very low.
Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, Dr. Peter Hotez said, “We are two COVID nations right now.” In Harris County, Texas, where Dr. Hotez lives, the number of cases is rising, a 114 percent increase in the past two weeks, and only 44 percent of the community has been fully vaccinated. “I wear a mask indoors most of the time,” Dr Hotez said.
Finally, masking is more important in poorly ventilated indoor spaces than outdoors, where the risk of infection is extremely low. Dr. Jah noted that he recently broke into a coffee shop, masked, because vaccination rates are high in his area, and he was only there for a few minutes.
Your personal risk also matters. If you are older or have compromised immunity, your antibody response to the vaccine may not be as strong as it is in a younger person. It is a good idea to avoid crowded places and wear a mask when you are indoors and not to know the vaccination status of people around you.
Use Times Tracker to find vaccination rates and case rates in your area.
Why is the Delta version prompting experts to rethink mask guidance?
When the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people could stop wearing masks, the number of cases was falling, vaccination was rising and the highly contagious Delta variant had yet to take hold. Since then, delta has spread rapidly and now accounts for more than 83 percent of cases in the United States.
People infected with the delta variant are known to release higher levels of the virus for a longer period of time than the earlier lineage of coronavirus. A preliminary study estimated the viral load to be 1,000 times higher in people with the delta variant. These higher viral loads give the virus more opportunities to challenge your antibodies and break down your vaccine’s defenses.
Dr. Hotez said, “This is twice as much as the original lineage of Covid.” “The reproduction number of the virus is around 6,” he said, referring to the number of people likely to be infected by a virus carrier. “That means 85 percent of the population needs vaccination. Only a few areas of the country are reaching it.”
July 22, 2021, 1:43 am ET
Is it safe for vaccinated people to go to restaurants, museums, movies, weddings or other large gatherings?
The answer depends on your individual risk tolerance and the level of vaccination and COVID-19 cases in your community. The longer you spend in enclosed spaces with unrelated people, the higher your risk of crossing paths with the delta variant, or any other type.
Large gatherings, by definition, provide more opportunities to become infected with the coronavirus, even if you have been vaccinated. Scientists have recently documented the transition of success to a wedding in Oklahoma and a July 4th ceremony in Provincetown, Mass.
But even with the delta version, full vaccination appears to be about 90 percent effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. If you are at very high risk for complications from COVID-19, however, you should consider avoiding risky situations and wearing a mask if the vaccination status of those around you is unknown.
Healthy vaccinated people who are at low risk of complications must decide what level of individual risk they are willing to tolerate. Wearing a mask at large indoor gatherings will reduce their risk of infection. If you are healthy and vaccinated, but are caring for elderly parents or spending time with other people at high risk, you should also consider their risk when deciding whether to attend an event or wear a mask needed.
“If I go to a public area, I’ll usually wear a mask,” Dr. Hotez said. “Until recently I used to take my son and his girlfriend out to dinner at a restaurant, and I didn’t wear a mask because transmission was very low. Now I’m not so sure. I can re-adjust my thinking about restaurants when Delta is growing rapidly.
If breakthrough transitions are rare, why do I keep hearing about them?
Breakthrough infections get a lot of attention as people who are vaccinated talk about them on social media. When there are clusters of breakthrough infections, they are also reported in science journals or the media.
But it’s important to remember that while success cases are relatively rare, they can happen no matter what vaccine you get.
“No vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing disease in vaccinated people,” the CDC states on its website. “There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized or die from COVID-19.”
A successful case does not mean that your vaccine is not working. In fact, most cases of breakthrough infection cause no symptoms or only mild illness, suggesting that the vaccines are working well to prevent severe disease from COVID-19.
until 12 july over 159 million people The United States was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of them, only 5,492 had success cases, resulting in serious illness. Including 1,063 who died. This is less than 0.0007 percent of the vaccinated population. Meanwhile, 99 per cent of the deaths due to Covid-19 are among the unvaccinated.
Many infectious disease experts are disappointed that the CDC is only documenting cases in which a person vaccinated with COVID-19 is hospitalized or dies. But many successful infections are still being found in asymptomatic people who are being tested frequently, such as baseball players and Olympic athletes. Many of them are traveling or spending extended periods of time in close proximity with others.
“Sports statistics are different,” Dr Jha said. “Part of the problem is that they are facing too many unvaccinated people, including their own small circle.”
I have been vaccinated. How often should I get tested for COVID-19?
If you’ve been fully vaccinated and you know you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, it’s a good idea to get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
And if you have cold symptoms or any other signs of infection, experts agree you should be tested. Many vaccinated people who have not worn a mask have developed a summer cold that causes a runny nose, fever and cough. But it is impossible to tell the difference between the summer cold and Kovid-19. Anyone with symptoms of a cough or cold should wear a mask to protect those around them and get tested for COVID-19. It’s a good idea to have some home COVID tests on hand as well.
Dr Jha said, “If I woke up one morning and had symptoms of a cold, I would put on a mask at home, and I would get myself tested.” “I don’t want to cause infection to other members of my family, and I don’t want to pass it on to my 9-year-old.”