Survey says 1 in 4 people will stop wearing masks after getting COVID-19 vaccine

NOW: Survey says 1 in 4 people will stop wearing masks after getting COVID-19 vaccine

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Most of us grab our masks before we leave the house, but one in four people say they will stop wearing them after getting the COVID-19 vaccine -- that's according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 

Doctors say stopping mask wearing after vaccination is a "dangerous" way of thinking, especially with another spike waiting to happen with new variants. 

They do not find it shocking, doctors told CBS 58; some people's behaviors may change after getting the vaccine but it's not time to be without your mask right now with emerging variants that are more contagious. 

“Twenty-five percent of people said they will stop wearing a mask once they receive the vaccine," said Ali Mokdad, PhD, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Ali Mokdad with IHME says it's concerning people may change their behavior by not wearing masks while increasing mobility. 

IHME projects percentage of U.S. mask use to decrease by eight percent by April 1. 

“It’s very dangerous simply because we’re not at herd immunity yet," Mokdad said. 

“I think that’s over-confidence and it’s not that we shouldn’t feel better about being vaccinated, you can still acquire COVID," said Dr. Matt Anderson, Physician Lead for Vaccine Work, UW-Health.

Doctors say both vaccines are 95 percent effective in preventing severe disease and death, but there's no hard facts yet that says the vaccine prevents COVID-19 transmission. 

“That doesn’t mean that you won’t necessarily come across another individual who has the virus, pick up the virus if you’re not careful and potentially be infected and maybe even spread it to others," said Ajay Sethi, PhD, population health sciences, UW-Madison.

But research is still being done amid concerning variants arriving in the U.S.

“We are definitely at risk for an increase in cases and hospitalizations and deaths—quite possibly worse than what we’ve seen so far," said Dr. Ben Weston, Associate Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin.

With rapid variant spread, the death toll projected in the U.S. by April 1, is more than 566,000.

“We hold sort of the key from preventing that from happening,"  Ajay Sethi, PhD, population health sciences, UW-Madison, said. 

IHME says masks can reduce transmission by 30 percent or more. 

“If you do wanna layer—you wanna put the most protective mask first—cover it by the next most protective," Dr. Weston said. 

“Do we repeat the same mistake that happened last year? Or we learn from our past and we be more vigilant," said Mokdad. 

Dr. Weston says we're up against a timeline to vaccinate people quickly in order to blunt the spike. We should know about the vaccines effectiveness in preventing transmission maybe in the coming weeks, but for sure in the coming months. 

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