Surgical masks, FFP2, cloth and even reusable. We have become accustomed in just over a year of the CODIV-19 pandemic to taking them with us everywhere. But now the coronavirus vaccines have arrived and group immunization no longer seems so far away. What’s more, in the United States they are already talking about going without them; but only the vaccinated. However, is it a good idea to go without a mask when we are vaccinated?
Let’s see what is happening in the United States. There the numbers of vaccinated people are higher than in Spain or Mexico; although there is still a bit to do to reach the so-called group immunity (around 60-70% of a population must be vaccinated to start talking about it). TO May 12 of 2021, a 35.18% of Americans have the complete pattern (two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca or one of Janssen and it has been two weeks since the last). While 46.04% already have at least one dose on, according to data from the Our World in Data website.
If COVID-19 outbreaks return to the United States, masks will become mandatory again
They are not progressing badly in the country. For this reason, people have already started talking about going out without masks. Vaccinated Americans will be able to go without a mask indoors and outdoors in general; but in places such as health centers or public transport, its use will continue to be mandatory, according to The Verge. Nevertheless, “a sense of normalcy” will return, according to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States. On the other hand, immunocompromised people they should talk to their doctor before they stop using the masks, Walensky added at the press appearance. They also clarified that if the outbreaks return, prevention measures, including masks, would again be mandatory.
Vaccination is fast in the United States, despite all the complications that are appearing related to thrombi as one of the “very rare” side effects of coronavirus vaccines. Even Pfizer and Moderna have had cases, beyond AstraZeneca and Janssen. But we are not here to talk about those few cases of thrombosis; let’s go back to the masks.
Can we go without a mask when we are vaccinated against the coronavirus?
While the vaccination rates are not high, the reality is that it is better keep wearing the mask. And this is how health personnel are transmitting it to people who go to get vaccinated. The first thing to keep in mind is that between the two doses and up to 15 days after the last injection we must maintain precautions. This is because antibodies take a few days to appear.
The coronavirus vaccine does not prevent us from getting infected, but it does make the disease milder
Let’s also remember that the vaccine does not free us from contagion. Yes we can develop the disease in a moderate or mild way; even the normal thing is that we are asymptomatic after immunization. But while there are unvaccinated people in our environment, it is best to keep the mask on. Especially in closed places, such as bars or homes, since we know that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through the air.
On the other hand, many experts do favor that the use of masks in open spaces is limited at those times when there are crowds or when you cannot keep your physical distance.
How to control who has been vaccinated and can go without a mask?
In Spain or Mexico there is still no date to stop wearing masks. And the million dollar question is how the authorities are going to know that a person is vaccinated and can go without the mask. Actually, this can be difficult to control. But a possible solution, at least within the European Union, may be the COVID passport (although the real name is Digital Green Certificate). This certificate will be presented shortly and has the green light for vaccinated people to travel from Spain to other member states. Although it must be clarified that the certificate it is not only for vaccinated. Since it will also work for people who have had negative coronavirus tests (NAAT / RT-PCR test or rapid antigen test) and for people who have already passed COVID-19.
This could be a solution, But is it the most appropriate? The European Union proposal may draw criticism as to whether this is ethical or not; as we already told you in Hypertext last August. Despite the fact that due to clinical information the immune passport affects privacy and, therefore, data protection. In case of epidemics, these data can be used to prevent infections. In addition, the European Union is preparing its Digital Green Certificate with the least amount of personal data possible. And thus prevent these from being transferred to the system. This passport would consist of a QR code confirming that we have immunity or we are not infected.
A future with coronavirus vaccines and without masks
Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Come the wonderful day when we can go without masks, it is likely that, as in the United States, health authorities limit use. Public transport or health centers are key places for contagion, so it is likely that we will take them there longer. In addition, in the face of possible new variants and outbreaks, it never hurts to continue having some masks at home.
On the other hand, perhaps it is the perfect time to start looking favorably on the people who faced symptoms such as cough, fever, or muscle aches go out with masks. It was done before in Asia. And it’s not just because of COVID-19. These months we have seen how flu infections have decreased for following prevention measures; but above all for the use of masks.
While the long-awaited day arrives when they give us the coronavirus vaccine and we can leave home without a mask; the best thing is that we keep the prevention measures. After more than a year, we already know them, but just in case we repeat them: maintain a physical distance of between 1.5 and 2 meters, especially in closed places; wash your hands regularly with soap and water and wear a mask whenever we leave our house.