Last week, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks in most settings—both indoors and outdoors. While this is seen as a positive sign that the pandemic in the US is improving, it also took many by surprise and left others confused.
According to CNN, “A fresh batch of data from a big study of health care workers across the country helped prompt the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to say fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most circumstances, the agency said Friday…
With more Americans being vaccinated, the risk of infection is dropping, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert and dean of the school of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
According to CDC data, nearly 47% of the US population has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and about 36% of the US population is fully vaccinated…In theory, if only fully vaccinated people went mask-free, there should be little risk of the virus spreading. But most US states have dropped mask mandates and more are dropping them after the CDC guidance.
Some critics have complained that the CDC has made no provision for people who have not been vaccinated but who will not wear masks.
‘While we all share the desire to return to a mask-free normal, today’s CDC guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks,’ United Food and Commercial Workers union president Marc Perrone said Thursday.
And President Joe Biden confirmed that Americans will be on the honor system for making sure they are vaccinated before discarding face masks. ‘We’re not going to go out and arrest people,’ Biden said in remarks Thursday.
There are some caveats to the science behind the new guidance. Right now, it looks like the authorized vaccines are very effective against new variants of the virus that are arising—but that’s not certain.
‘Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others,’ the CDC notes.
Other unknowns include how well the vaccines protect people with weakened immune systems, including cancer patients and people with autoimmune disorders who take immunosuppressive medications.
Plus, the CDC says, it’s not clear how long coronavirus vaccine protection lasts, although studies indicate it’s at least six months and likely longer.
Walensky denies the changes were made to motivate people to get vaccinated — although many public health experts had urged CDC to make the changes as an incentive.”
In a poll of 450 global Sermo physicians, 64% said they think the CDC was premature in lifting mask requirements. And 74% do not believe that the “honor system” for making sure people are fully vaccinated before discarding masks will work. Seventy four percent of doctors are concerned that these new provisions could be dangerous for essential workers, who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.
Regarding the idea that lifting mask restrictions could incentivize people to get vaccinated, 65% of physicians said they do not believe that will work. When asked what their main concerns are by the lifting of mask requirements, this is what the physicians said:
- 58% said emerging variants could evade vaccines
- 54% said it causes anxiety because we don’t know who has and has not been vaccinated
- 47% said vaccine protection will wear off, and people will not know when they are no longer safe
- 46% said people who cannot get vaccinated will now be at risk
- 30% said the coronavirus could be passed by vaccinated individuals
- 34% said children under 12 will be more at risk
Here’s more of what Sermo physicians have to say on this topic:
My main concern is that large unvaccinated populations in parts of the world where pandemic infections rage unabated will produce new more infectious or more lethal viral variants for which the current vaccines will prove to be not effective.Radiology
Last 3 weeks show extreme drop-off in deaths from Covid-19. Where are all the deaths in the USA from the new variants which have been around for months and now overtaken native Covid virus in many places? The vaccine works! Masking does not prevent getting the virus. It prevents you from giving your case to others. Go by what we know, not what if…Ophthalmology
Why is so little attention given to the millions of Americans who have had COVID and recovered? What proof is there that these people need to be vaccinated? Or maybe they will do best with one dose of a mRNA vaccine instead of two. Is anyone looking at this?Dermatology
I read several weeks ago that people who have previously had the disease are not well protected against the variants and that is why they should be vaccinated, preferably 3 months after their illness. I cant cite a specific source right now.
It seems to me that very little attention has been paid to the South African variant in the US and there are only assumptions that the approved vaccines are effective. The same seems to be true with the India and Brazil variants. The only variant that has received much attention is the UK version. Because of this, I think the CDC decision was premature. They could have waited a few weeks and obtained more data.General Practice (GP)
The unvaccinated, who have chosen to be so, are the ones at risk. Essential workers who are concerned should get vaccinated. Next case.General Surgery
We are leaving our most vulnerable citizens, young children, to make up for our inability to protect them. They have to continue masking to protect from people who are unvaccinated but will just shed the mask (or were never waring it to begin with). This was a poorly thought-out decision by the CDC.Pediatrics (excluding surgery)
It was a premature decision. The virus becomes quiet in summer and we have been in the cycle of false security before. The variants are out there and genomic sequencing has not been robust in US. Fall and winter might bring in a different scenario. So, many (even if vaccinated) are making their own decisions (independent of CDC) and don’t plant to chuck their masks just yet.Endocrinology