ATLANTA — The COVID-19 vaccine is providing a light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t throw that mask away just yet.
Masks have become a part of our wardrobe. The arrival of a vaccine doesn’t change that. Not yet.
“Even if you’ve been vaccinated, it’s safest to go ahead and continue to wear a mask,” said Dr. Ashley Hannings of the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy.
It takes two shots and time for the vaccine to train our body on how to combat the virus. After that, your immune system knows how block the virus from latching onto cells and multiplying if you’re exposed to it.
“You’re able to fight it off because you’ve had the exposure with the vaccine,” said Dr. Hannings. “But it’s not known whether or not you still might be able to transmit it to others.”
In other words, you might not get sick, but the virus you’ve repelled might leave your body and move on to someone else.
So, medical experts continue to recommend masks to help prevent transmission along with social distancing for everyone, even those who’ve had the vaccine.
As more people are vaccinated, researchers will learn more about the impact on transmitting the virus.
“We should see some evidence coming from the manufacturers, but until we know for sure, they’re going to continue to recommend you wear a facemask," Dr. Hannings said.
The vaccine may be our most important weapon in fighting this pandemic but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put the other weapons away.