By: Dr. Supriya Mannepalli, NGMC’s Medical Director of Infectious Disease Medicine
Wearing a mask has been a part of our daily routine for nearly a year. We are all looking forward to the day that we can put away our masks for good, but it’s not time for that yet – and here’s why we still need our masks.
Numbers are low in my community. Why should I still wear a mask?
Studies have shown the tremendous impact mask-wearing has on limiting community transmission of COVID-19. Proper mask use helps prevent you from releasing respiratory droplets into the air and helps protect you from breathing in respiratory droplets from others.
I’ve already had COVID-19, so I’m not worried about getting it again. Why do I need to wear a mask?
Wearing a mask helps protect both you and others. Even if you’ve had COVID-19, you may no longer have antibodies, and wearing a mask helps protect you from contracting the virus again. It’s also possible that antibodies in your system might prevent you from having noticeable symptoms if you were to get COVID-19 again – and that you might unknowingly spread COVID-19 to others.
I received the COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still need to wear a mask?
Getting the vaccine does prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 – and provides the ability to socialize with other fully-vaccinated individuals without masks. But, you still should wear a mask in public places even if you are vaccinated. There are three reasons for this:
1. Masks protect you.
While the vaccine should prevent you from having a serious case of COVID-19 if you’re exposed – and it may even prevent you from having symptoms at all – there is still a chance that you can get COVID-19. Wearing a mask of any type helps reduce the chance that you will get the virus.
2. Masks protect others around you.
The vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting COVID-19, and if you were to have the virus but show no symptoms, it still may be possible for you to spread the virus to others. Wearing a mask prevents you from spreading the illness to others.
3. We don’t know how effective the vaccine will be against new strains or how long immunity lasts.
New strains are appearing now, and they’re actively spreading in our community. We simply don’t know enough yet about those new strains to know how effective the vaccine will be against those new strains – and we don’t know enough yet about the vaccine to know how long it will protect us.
In addition to wearing your mask, please remember to follow the other 3Ws by washing your hands and watching your distance.
For the latest COVID-19 data, links to vaccine information and more, visit nghs.com/COVID-19.