More vaccinations equals fewer masks

The Republic

The equation is simple: If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask in most all social situations.

While the messaging by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been confusing at times since March of 2020, the health organization released a clear-cut opinion on its face covering recommendations last week.

On Thursday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said that masks are no longer needed for vaccinated individuals in most all indoors settings — a major step in the country returning to normalcy.

At the same time, the CDC did stipulate that masks should still be worn in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. This policy makes sense, as the risk for transmission is higher in most of those situations.

President Joe Biden later echoed Walensky by saying, “If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask … Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”

The news is welcome, but the key to remember in the new policy is that it only applies to individuals that have been fully vaccinated, and there’s still a risk of catching the virus even if you’ve gotten the vaccine. In addition, while less likely to face serious illness, not all age groups are yet eligible for the vaccine.

By loosening mask mandates, the CDC is once again signaling its confidence in the three vaccines available to the public. Millions are continuing to get vaccinated every day, which is the main factor in the changes.

For those that are still on the fence of whether or not to get vaccinated, the CDC news should help encourage them to get the shot.

In Indiana, more than 99% of positive COVID-19 cases came from individuals not vaccinated.

Around 40% of the state was fully vaccinated heading into this week. With the state opening the vaccine to 12- to 17-year-olds last week, those numbers should continue to increase in the coming days.

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It’s important that precautions are still taken when it comes to masking and social distancing, but it’s encouraging to know that we’re starting to move towards a mask-free world.

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