What Is The Latest Mask Guidance?
Previously, the CDC stated that fully vaccinated individuals could forgo wearing masks in most situations. However, due to low vaccination rates across the country and the increase of cases primarily due to the rise of the Delta variant, the CDC updated their mask guidelines on July 27, which included guidelines for fully vaccinated people.
Non-vaccinated people should continue to always wear a mask when in public, and the new guidelines states that fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission to maximize protection from the Delta variant. This includes anyone age 2 and older. Wearing a mask is also very important even for those that are vaccinated if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.
The CDC categorizes the risk level of a region by the prevalence of infections and the percentage of positive COVID tests. If you are interested in seeing what the risk level of your area is, click here. Additionally, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in nearly 90% of the United States, with areas of low vaccination rates, like Louisiana and Mississippi, experiencing large outbreaks, mainly due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
While most of these cases are coming from unvaccinated people, there have been breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated people. While the vaccine has been shown to greatly reduce side effects and hospitalization for those that are fully vaccinated and become infected, there is a possibility that they could still be contagious and spread COVID to others, including immunocompromised people and children who may not be able to receive the vaccine yet. It is because of this that the mask guidelines were updated.
Even with this information, it is still imperative that people get vaccinated against COVID-19. As variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge in our communities, it has never been more critical for people to get vaccinated, not only to stop the spread of current strains but also to help prevent more mutations and new strains from developing. The severe risks of COVID-19 – even for young, healthy people – outweigh the risks of any possible serious side effects from the vaccine.
Until we reach herd immunity and most of the United States has been vaccinated, we will need to continue to practice social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks. These are the best ways to reduce your chance of being exposed to or spreading the virus until we end this pandemic.
Getting vaccinated is more important than ever. If you still need to get your COVID-19 vaccine, visit ochsner.org/vaccineinfo to find out where you can get a vaccine today.