Even with updated CDC guidelines, doctors say some people should still mask

NOW: Even with updated CDC guidelines, doctors say some people should still mask

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As CBS 58 reported, updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines say fully vaccinated people don’t have to mask indoors or outdoors, and in certain circumstances don’t have to distance or get tested after exposure.

Doctors say the new changes by the CDC are being driven by case numbers declining, vaccines gaining momentum since they first came out and now,  kids ages 12 to 15 are able to get their shots. With all those factors in play, can fully vaccinated people say the pandemic is over for them? Doctors say not so fast.

“As activities start happening and people are able to not wear their masks—we’ll see whether that changes anything in terms of the COVID rates and so on. A lot of monitoring still needs to be done, but I think it should certainly give people incentive to get vaccinated and it’s a really good thing,” Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control, UW Health.

Dr. Safdar says masking outside of your immediate household can get tricky when you go out with family members that aren’t vaccinated. She says unvaccinated family members should mask in indoor spaces.

“Masking inside, because I think the outdoors risk is very, very low, there’s been hardly any transmissions reported from outside activity,” she adds.

There’s also a caveat, doctors say even with the new CDC guidance, immunocompromised people who are fully vaccinated should still mask indoors.

“The immunocompromised population doesn’t respond as well to the vaccines because their immune system is compromised, and so the recommendation is that they shouldn’t change their behavior, they should still be masking and distancing,” Dr. Safdar says.

In a briefing Friday, the World Health Organization said the most important thing to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 is continued prevention methods, which the CDC says include getting a COVID-19 vaccine, avoiding close contact with sick people and monitoring your health daily.

“So do what you can, keep yourself safe, keep your loved ones safe, know what your risk is every day, throughout your day and take steps to lower the risk,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead for the World Health Organization.

Dr. Safdar says you are protected for the most part when you’ve been fully vaccinated, but you should still follow guidance if you have symptoms of respiratory illness.

“Because no vaccine is 100-percent, so should they get that, they should mask and isolate and get tested as you would normally, but beyond that I think they can be reassured,” said Dr. Safdar.

While CDC guidance says masking indoors is no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people, Dr. Safdar says that doesn’t apply to health care settings. If you’re visiting a loved one in the hospital or going in to get checked, be prepared to mask up. 

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