Do vaccinated people need to wear masks?
That has been a contentious issue for a couple of months. After all, what’s the point of getting vaccinated if nothing changes?
The CDC seemed to be thinking along those lines in May when they dropped their mask recommendation for vaccinated people.
However, Delta changed everything.
Due to the explosion of the Delta variant, Los Angeles started requiring masks again.
After weeks of pressure, the CDC is doing the same.
CDC’s New Position
On Tuesday, the CDC cited new science as a reason for updating their masking guidance. They now recommend all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear maks in public, indoor settings.
There is a catch. The guidance only applies to people in areas with substantial or high levels of transmission.
What are substantial or high levels?
Having more than 50 cases per 100,000 people qualifies an area as having “substantial” or “high” transmission.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky offered some inside into the CDC’s thought process.
“Information on the Delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that, on rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”-Dr. Walensky
Dr. Walensky was referring to the CDC’s findings of how the Delta Variant affects vaccinated people. Vaccinated people are less likely to get sick from Delta, but they may still transmit the virus at similar levels as unvaccinated people.
What does this mean for schools?
That’s a particularly important question since Los Angeles students will be returning to school in a matter of weeks.
The CDC is now recommending universal masking in schools. That applies to all teachers, staff, students, and visitors.
That’s not a particularly big change, though. Los Angeles schools were already planning on requiring masks.
Vaccines are our most powerful weapon against Covid.
But are vaccines still effective?
Vaccination still works
Last week the CDC estimated that 97% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated patients. The risk of dying from Delta drops twentyfold after vaccination.
A recent study showed two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be 88% effective against symptomatic infection. The same study found one does to be only 36% effective.
A recent Canadian study showed slightly different results. It found one dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be 56% effective against symptomatic infection. It also showed Moderna to be 72% effective. That study is still waiting for peer review, however.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine results in more breakthrough infections due it its lower efficacy. However, research has found that 94% of breakthrough infections were mild.
The biggest concern at the moment is future mutations. The more mutations happen, the more chance there is that they can beat our vaccines.
“These vaccines operate really well in protecting us from severe disease and death, but the big concern is that the next variant that might emerge — just a few mutations potentially away — could potentially evade our vaccines.” -Rochelle Walensky
The CDC’s guidance is nothing new for Los Angeles. We were already being told to wear masking indoors.
Unfortunately, it’s yet another sign that the pandemic is not as over as we hoped. Changes are still coming and will keep coming in the near future.
Thankfully, the worst still seems behind us. But, Los Angeles should stay ready for a couple more bumps in the road back to normal.
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