Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

Since the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of people walking around without masks. Today, a maskless woman stood within 6 inches of me while talking. When I said something to her, she replied, “I’m vaccinated.” I politely told her that being vaccinated doesn’t mean she shouldn’t still wear a mask. She insisted I was wrong and called me illiterate. Insult aside, I think she honestly believed that she was correct.

Researchers don’t yet know exactly to what degree, in the real world, a vaccinated person is protected, or whether they can still transmit the virus to others. Until they do, the CDC and every resource I’ve checked (including local DoH guidelines) advises that even if you’ve had 2 doses of the vaccine, you should still wear a mask to protect others (and yourself, since building immunity takes several weeks after the second dose and even then, the vaccines are not 100% effective). It’d be nice if the healthcare folks giving the shots were advising people of this, just as a pharmacist advises on rx drugs, but maybe not. Just hoping to quell misinformation.

From the CDC FAQ:

Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have gotten 2 doses of the vaccine?

Yes. Experts do not yet know the extent of protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions. We also don’t yet know whether getting a vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus to others, even if you don’t get sick. While researchers learn more, it’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, including social distancing and wearing a mask.”

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