Fully Vaccinated People: You Have A Moral Obligation To Keep Wearing Your Mask
It’s been about a year since we started wearing masks every time we went to a public place. It’s a bummer. Nobody I have spoken to really enjoys the experience of wearing the mask. The protection, sure, but the feeling of fabric across your face, especially when it’s warm outside?
That isn’t great.
However, every conscientious, intelligent person I know puts their mask on before they go into a public place anyway. We all know that following the scientific consensus and public health recommendations is wise, responsible and the healthiest choice during this ongoing and still very real pandemic.
Recently, all the conscientious, intelligent people I know have started receiving the COVID vaccine.
Many of us are weeks past our second dose, enjoying the highest level of vaccine-derived protection currently possible. Our chances of contracting COVID are diminished and the odds that we would have a serious or deadly case of COVID if we did catch it are much slimmer than they were before we received the vaccine.
Millions of Americans are in the same position. Being vaccinated gave us hope and opened doors that had been closed to us for a year. We are hugging our parents again. Our babies are meeting their relatives. We are having a friend or two over for dinner at home. Glimmers of our old normal are returning, and a new normal finally feels like a real possibility.
The vaccine changed everything.
Even if you are fully vaccinated, you still need to mask up in public, avoid large indoor gatherings, skip indoor dining and be cautious around unvaccinated people.
I know. That sounds ridiculous to some of us. What’s the freaking point of taking the jab if we still have to act like we are in a pandemic?
Well, the main point is to protect yourself from a potentially life-threatening virus.
The thing is that even when you are as protected as you can be (two weeks past your last injection), you still have a moral obligation to maintain the precautions that protect the people around you. Being cautious will also reduce community spread, which will make this entire ordeal less harrowing for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
It makes sense.
Children are still unable to get the vaccine in the U.S. We know that some people with certain immune disorders might not be able to produce strong antibodies, even with the vaccine. Some communities and individuals are vaccine hesitant due to their history with the medical community.
We even have to protect the stubborn, ill-informed conspiracy theorists who could be vaccinated but think they know better than the whole entire scientific community.
While we know that the vaccine provides a high level of protection for most people, it hasn’t been out long enough to definitively say that you can’t pass the virus on if you contract it after vaccination. (Although preliminary evidence looks good so far!)
We also just don’t know how long the protection will last. The COVID vaccine might need boosters or a yearly schedule like the flu shot. We are also dealing with multiple variants that could respond differently to the vaccine. There are a lot of things left to learn. For now, the masks have to stick around, and we still need to be COVID cautious, and that sucks.
But there are a lot of things that vaccinated people can do, so let’s focus on that.
- We can hang out with other vaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated people are highly unlikely to be a health threat to one another. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can “visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age.” That means you could conceivably have a whole entire dinner party full of people who are at least two weeks past their last vaccine. Wine. Fancy china. Canapes. Cocktail dresses. Whatever you’ve been missing, fully vaccinated people can enjoy it again with each other in private settings.
- We can hang out with low-risk unvaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated people can see ONE HOUSEHOLD of low-risk unvaccinated people at a time. It’s still a bad idea for unvaccinated people to hang out together, so hosting a party or large event for people of different vaccine statuses is not yet advised. But if you know one family that hasn’t yet taken the vaccine and you are vaccinated, you can visit them again inside a home without a mask.
- We can travel domestically without testing and quarantining.
Personally, I’d still avoid airplanes for a bit because of the close quarters, but the official CDC recommendation says that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically—you’ll still just need to wear your mask, maintain distance where possible, and be COVID smart.
Remember that your children are not vaccinated, so this doesn’t apply to family vacations.
I wear my mask to protect myself, but also to make sure the people around me know that I care about their wellbeing.
My mask says that I care about you. Your health and your comfort. You don’t know my vaccination status, and I don’t know your health history. I wear my mask over my mouth and nose as instructed to reduce your risk of infection if I happen to be carrying the virus unwittingly. I wear it to reduce my risk of picking up the virus if I come across an infected person. My mask is a sign that I am hanging in there, not letting my exhaustion dictate my choices. It signals to those around me that I am listening to the science and doing my part.
It’s frustrating that we can’t yet ditch these masks and toss them into a bonfire, but that’s why we need to try to convince everyone we know to get the vaccine. A life without masks isn’t yet a reality, but we could get there sooner if everyone who is medically able to get the vaccine chooses to get it.
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