By Dr. Gregory T. Williams
Chief of Infectious Diseases
Reliant Medical Group
As more and more people become fully vaccinated, it’s natural to think that taking precautions such as wearing a face mask is less important. However, that’s simply not true. Face masks and social distancing will still be an important part of combating Covid-19 for some time. The vaccine should be considered one layer of protection, working in tandem with other methods.
Here’s five important reasons why you should continue to wear a face mask after being vaccinated:
- The vaccines do not provide 100% protection. As good as most of the Covid-19 vaccines are, they cannot totally protect you from getting the disease. If a vaccine is 95% protective, approximately five out of 100 people will still get the disease if exposed (though it’s expected illness will be mild). Wearing a mask can still make a crucial difference if you are exposed, even if you are vaccinated.
- It takes time for the vaccine to work. Remember that you will not receive full protection from the vaccine until a few weeks after your second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That’s because your body needs time to build up the antibodies that protect you from Covid-19. One-shot vaccines, if approved, will also need time to build up antibodies in those who receive them.
- People who have been vaccinated could still spread the disease. Scientists know that the approved vaccines work well to prevent serious illness, but are unsure if they can also prevent transmission of Covid-19. It’s possible that vaccinated people can still become infected without showing any symptoms and then unknowingly spread Covid-19 to others. This is known as asymptomatic spread and an important reason why vaccinated people should still wear a face mask.
- Not everyone will receive the vaccine. Many people will choose to not receive a vaccine for Covid-19. In addition, some people, such as those who had an allergic reaction to their first dose, will not become fully vaccinated. Other groups of people, such as pregnant women, may defer receiving the vaccine until later. Wearing a face mask helps protect you and anyone you come into contact with from Covid-19, whether they were vaccinated or not.
- Protecting the entire population takes time. A limited amount of vaccine means that not everyone who wants the vaccine can receive it. It will take many months before herd immunity – the protection of the larger population through vaccination – can take effect. Experts believe that herd immunity won’t be reached until the fall or winter of 2022 at the earliest. A key reason to keep wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.
About Gregory T. Williams, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease
Ever since he was a child, Dr. Greg T. Williams knew he wanted to be a doctor. “It was just one of those things, I always knew I wanted to be in medicine. I think it was a combination of enjoying science and wanting to help others that led me to decide to become a doctor,” he explains.
Dr. Williams works in the Division of Infectious Disease at Reliant Medical Group, helping to diagnose and treat a wide range of viral, bacterial,...View profile View posts by this doctor