Why The CDC Wants People Vaccinated For COVID-19 To Wear Masks Again

We've been living through a worldwide pandemic for over a year and a half now, and after vaccines started rolling out in the beginning of the year and became readily accessible to millions of Americans across the country, it seemed as though there was finally a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

And while there's been hesitancy for some to get the vaccine — only 50% of Americans over the age of 12 are currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of publication (via USA Facts) — those who choose to get vaccinated are not only protecting themselves, they're protecting others as well. In turn, those who forgo getting the vaccine are not only putting themselves and others at risk, they're essentially giving the virus the chance to mutate into different variants, which spread quicker and lead to more cases (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). We've seen this in real time, as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have spiked in nearly every state over the past few weeks (via CNBC).

"We only have two choices, we are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic or we are going to accept death, a lot of it, this surge and another surge and possibly another variant," infectious disease specialist Dr. Catherine O'Neal stated in a press conference (via ABC News).

Here's why the CDC is recommending that vaccinated people wear masks again

Per The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in which they will recommend that vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors. The announcement comes just two months after the CDC updated their mask guidelines, telling those who are fully vaccinated that they can go maskless in most indoor situations (via CNN). However, thanks to the staggering amount of unvaccinated Americans who have been rapidly spreading the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, breakthrough cases — although still rare in the grand scheme of things — among the vaccinated are becoming more common. "Breakthrough infections, they tend to be mild — they tend to be more like a cold," Dr. Carlos del Rio told NPR.

The real question here, though, is whether or not those who are fully vaccinated, but become infected with the virus, can transmit it to others — something that is currently being researched. And although the results from the study aren't in yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, suggested that, "It would be less likely that that vaccinated breakthrough person would transmit, compared to an unvaccinated person."

"The safest thing to do is to avoid being infected altogether, and that's why I think it is appropriate for people to employ additional mitigation measures," virus expert Angela Rasmussen, of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, told NPR.

Doctors took to social media to give their opinions on wearing masks again

Doctors across the country reacted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest expected update on the mask mandate in America, taking to Twitter to issue their thoughts on vaccinated individuals wearing masks indoors again. "Agree. We questioned the move when the CDC dropped its mask mandate," Dr. Shriram Nene wrote on Twitter. "Now with Delta, it makes sense to mask indoors in crowds, even if vaccinated, until all are vaccinated. This will hopefully reduce propagation of the virus."

One Twitter user replied with an adamant agreement, saying that safety is of the utmost importance and that we should all be wearing masks until "we are good to go." Another doctor, medical oncologist and cancer researcher Leonidas Platanias, took to social media and said that the delta variant of COVID-19 is certainly cause for concern, and asserted that the initial reversal of the mask mandate for vaccinated people was based on "old data." Saying that there is "a very obviously needed mask mandate," Platanias made it clear that masking up is the way to go.