Its been more than a year since the world came to a screeching halt as COVID-19 began working its way through the state and the county, killing thousands and sickening even more.
And throughout that time, pulling on a mask to interact with strangers became a matter of course – a sign of good hygiene just like handwashing and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
And now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that masks are no longer needed among the vaccinated, causing some amount of confusion and worry among a populace that has spent the better part of a year conditioning themselves to wear one.
And as serious as the pandemic was, it was surprising to many that suddenly showing off the bottom half of your face was safe if you were vaccinated.
But, experts said, that last part of the sentence is the big part of the announcement — if you are vaccinated.
“There’s good science to indicate that, in an ideal world where everyone does follow these guidelines, fully vaccinated people really can feel comfortable taking their masks off,” Brian Resnick wrote in his article about the reticence to give up masking on Vox. “These vaccines are really good. They prevent disease, infection, and transmission the majority of the time. And the best thing an individual can do to help end the pandemic is to get vaccinated.”
As of April 26, roughly 95 million people in the U.S. were fully vaccinated. Of that number, a little more than 9,000 ended up getting COVID-19 anyway — what scientists call a “breakthrough infection” – which is about .01 percent of those vaccinated.
And of those breakthrough infections, only .001 percent or so were sick enough to be hospitalized.
“Recently, a 5,000-patient study out of Israel compared cases of breakthrough infections (after vaccination) with infections that occurred among the unvaccinated,” the article continued. “Simply put: The study found that those who had breakthrough infections also had smaller quantities of virus than people who weren’t vaccinated.
In short, yes, there is a small chance you might contract COVID even if you’re vaccinated, but if you do, it will be less severe, and your viral load will be low enough that you might not even pass it along to other people.
Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, who runs the popular Facebook page “Your local epidemiologist,” shared her thoughts on how to navigate masking and unmasking at schools.