Thousands of people in Louisiana have either received the one-shot, Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Those vaccinations are not the end of the battle against the virus though.
“Taking the vaccine doesn’t get you a hall pass from wearing the mask,” LSU Health Shreveport Vice Chancellor of Research Dr. Chris Kevil said. “What we know is that the vaccine reduces severity if you get the virus and reduces hospitalization and death. We don’t know if it reduces one’s ability to spread it. Wearing a mask helps prevent the spread. Until that data becomes more clear and we understand what the vaccines are really doing, mask usage is still going to be important.”
Kevil said mask wearing isn’t the only part of pandemic life remaining after being vaccinated but as more is learned about how well the vaccinations work, there could be some changes coming.
“I do think the CDC will come out, and they have hinted as much, with some changes or recommendations for people who have had the vaccine that they may be able to change later on, but I think basic preventive measures such as social distancing will probably still be in place,” Kevil said.
While mask wearing and social distancing are still advised, Kevil said those who have been vaccinated should be able to eat dinner or go to a movie without fear.
“I know personally, knowing how strong an immuno response these vaccines illicit, I feel comfortable having dinner inside. That doesn’t mean I walk around without a mask. I don’t do that. And obviously you can’t eat with a mask on so when you sit down at dinner to eat, you take your mask off. But when you leave the restaurant, those kind of things still help and are still good prudent exercises to engage in.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives further specific guidance for what fully vaccinated people can do:
(1) Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
(2) Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
(3) Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure to COVID-19 if asymptomatic.