Why you still need to wear a mask after getting COVID-19 vaccine
With the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine being fulfilled with the launch of the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the need to keep wearing masks, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing remains vital to protecting life.
Public health measures have been the main tools used to prevent infection and transmission of the virus. Wearing a face mask can reduce a person's risk of infection by 70%. With the emergency approval of the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, there is an opportunity to further reduce the risk of disease due to COVID-19.
However, vaccines can give people a false sense of security that masks are no longer needed. Unfortunately this is not the case.
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Vaccination teaches the body how to successfully fight a virus without actually getting sick. This is in contrast to public health measures that reduce exposure to the virus. To effectively contain this pandemic, virus exposure reduction and support for vaccination campaigns must continue.
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Here are reasons why you should continue to wear a mask (and follow other recommended safety guidelines) during and after vaccination:
- Vaccination does not provide immediate immunity. Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses spaced weeks apart. Depending on the vaccine, it may take four to six weeks from the first dose to achieve immunity and protection levels comparable to those seen in clinical trials. During this time, it is still possible to contract an infection and get sick.
Vaccination studies did not record whether participants wore masks. While clinical trials have strict criteria for registration and monitoring, it is not clear whether or not participants in the trials were given guidance on how to use masks. In the absence of data, it is not clear whether the effectiveness of the vaccination has anything to do with the vaccine study participants adhering to public health measures such as wearing masks.
PHOTO: A sign outside the Fresh Market supermarket in Smithtown, New York prompts customers not to enter without a face covering due to COVID-19 concerns on April 18, 2020. (Newsday Llc / Newsday via Getty Images)
The real world does not mimic a controlled clinical trial. Factors such as storage, transportation, administration of the vaccine, and an individual's medical health can determine the actual effectiveness of the vaccine. In clinical studies, healthy individuals with stable pre-existing diseases were assessed. During mass vaccination campaigns, operational logistics, along with a person's particular medical conditions, can affect overall immunity.
The herd immunity threshold for COVID-19 is unknown. Herd immunity occurs when a large part of the population is exposed to the virus, typically through vaccination, and limits the ability of the virus to spread. The percentage of the population that needs immunization to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. For example, measles requires that 95% of the population be vaccinated to limit the spread. The herd immunity threshold for COVID-19 has yet to be established, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MORE: Will life return to normal after 2 vaccines?
The duration of immunity is unknown. The Food and Drug Administration requires a median of two months of safety and efficacy data for the emergency approval after the vaccination schedule has been completed. The duration of vaccine coverage has yet to be determined and will be monitored as vaccination campaigns are launched. The good news is that our immune system's memory cells that identify infections and trigger an immune response lasted longer than six months in certain patients infected with COVID-19.
PHOTO: People watch New York Philharmonic musicians play in Betty Carter Park in Brooklyn, New York on September 4, 2020. (Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images)
It is unclear whether vaccines prevent the transmission of COVID-19. In their clinical trials, Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna did not track any cases of asymptomatic infections with COVID-19. This means that the vaccine's ability to reduce transmission has never been assessed. Future studies need to assess whether vaccination reduces virus transmission before we can reassess the role of public health measures.
With this pandemic raging worldwide with over 1.5 million deaths, the scientific community has reached its own impressive milestone, according to the World Health Organization. Within 10 months, vaccines were developed, tested, and deployed with enviable efficacy rates in excess of 94% and no serious adverse events. Much of this success depends on continuous collaboration. It is imperative that every eligible person is vaccinated. Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of disease, but it does not mean the end of public health measures.
As we better understand this virus and the effectiveness of the vaccine, we must continue to pursue public health measures aimed at reducing exposure to coronavirus, such as: B. wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing.
Jay Bhatt is an internist, instructor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, and a contributor to ABC News. Shazia Ahmed, M.D., is a resident physician in Massachusetts and former Chief Medical Officer of 2020 On-Site.
Why you still need to wear a mask after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine was originally posted on abcnews.go.com
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