After you’re vaccinated, keep that mask on

Despite differing opinions on mask-wearing, it seems that everybody is in equal anticipation to see each other’s smiling faces again. Many are looking forward to getting vaccinated for COVID-19 as a return to fresh air—but reconsider ripping off your mask. For the peace-of-mind and safety of yourself and others, keep your mask on. Here’s why:

Setting an Example

People tend to mimic each other’s actions; if you cruise around without your mask, others will follow—vaccinated or not. You don’t want to unintentionally encourage others in being irresponsible, or trick others into thinking that it’s acceptable to go without a mask. 

Avoiding Hassle

Government and business regulations continue to require masks in stores and other public facilities. Even if you explain that you are vaccinated, it is still a requirement, and employees have no way of knowing if you were truly vaccinated—or if you are just another “Karen.” In terms of convenience, it’s easier to just wear y our mask and avoid conflict.

Providing a Sense of Safety

If you don’t wear your mask, others may feel hesitant about being in your presence for fear of catching the virus. In order to provide a sense of safety to others, your mask should remain on. Remember, the general public doesn’t know if you’ve been vaccinated or not—it’s not as though the needle is sticking out of your arm.

Staying Protected

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick.” In other words, taking off your mask first thing after getting vaccinated is just as dangerous as it would be prior to vaccination. To protect yourself from exposure, it’s best to keep the mask on long after your inoculation.

Preventing the Spread

Perhaps the biggest reason you should keep your mask on is that scientists still do not know if the vaccine prevents you from carrying and spreading COVID-19 to others. “Currently, we do not have enough data to be able to say with confidence that the vaccines can prevent transmission. So even if vaccinated, you may still be able to spread the virus to vulnerable people,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a tweet. Although the virus may not infect you after vaccination, it is still a possibility that you may spread it to those around you. 

Although it is important to wear a mask even after vaccination, that does not mean we need to wear them forever. Once herd immunity is reached and a majority of people are protected and vaccinated, then masks will likely be phased out of the equation, and we can finally breathe freely.

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