CDC now agrees with WHO that fully vaccinated should wear masks. What to know

Whether vaccinated folks should wear masks is a query for a lot of, together with main well being companies. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

For essentially the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

A spike in COVID-19 circumstances throughout the US attributable to the extremely contagious delta variant has resulted within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reassessing its steering for masks sporting. Today, the CDC announced during a telebriefing that it is recommending fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors once more in some areas — together with colleges. This is totally different from its guidance earlier this month that stated it is secure for academics and college students who’re fully vaccinated to skip the face masks

The World Health Organization continues to advocate that to gradual the quickly spreading delta variant, everybody should proceed to wear face masks in crowded areas, even people who find themselves previous the two-week mark after receiving their second vaccine dose, for instance from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. 

Both the WHO and CDC agree that individuals who aren’t vaccinated should proceed to wear face masks. But given the excessive charge of safety that vaccinated folks have in opposition to the delta variant and different COVID strains, why are some medical consultants in battle a couple of barrier over your nostril and mouth? We proceed to replace this story.

CDC steering: Fully vaccinated should proceed sporting masks in some areas

The CDC on Tuesday modified its steering for masks sporting that says vaccinated folks should proceed sporting masks indoors in sure areas of the nation. This contains areas the place COVID-19 circumstances are on the rise. It additionally modified the steering for Ok-12 colleges, saying everybody should wear a masks, no matter vaccination standing. Earlier this month, it stated fully vaccinated academics and college students do not want to wear masks inside the college. 

Originally, the rules stated those that are fully vaccinated can “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing” besides the place required, equivalent to in planes and companies. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky caught to that steering on NBC’s Today show on June 30, saying fully vaccinated persons are protected against the delta variant.

The CDC warned CNN that there’s nonetheless a small probability fully vaccinated folks can develop into contaminated with the brand new variant in the event that they’re uncovered. We’ve requested the CDC for remark.

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What is the CDC’s new guidance for kids and teachers?

Those who aren’t vaccinated — ages 2 and up — need to wear a mask while inside but don’t have to when they’re outside. For fully vaccinated teachers and students, the CDC recommends they continue to wear masks inside the school building. 

For child care programs, regarding schools with children younger than 12, universal mask use can be implemented as children this age aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines yet. Mask mandates can also go into effect if coronavirus transmission is high in that community.

For schools that can’t provide adequate physical distancing, the CDC says “layered COVID-19 prevention strategies” should be put in place to protect kids and teachers who aren’t fully vaccinated.

Read more: In-person learning should be a priority for schools this fall, CDC says

Why are experts at odds over masks for vaccinated people?

In June, WHO officials repeated a longstanding recommendation that everyone should wear masks to stem the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, the CDC (until today) continued to uphold its guidance that not all fully vaccinated Americans need to wear masks indoors or maintain social distancing. White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that those who’ve had two doses of the vaccine should still “go the extra step” of wearing a mask when traveling to places with low vaccination rates. 

A few days after the WHO recommended that people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine should continue wearing a face mask, Fauci explained why the advice differed from the CDC’s. “There’s a reason for that,” he said in a virtual White House press briefing. “The WHO is responsible for the planet as a whole. It’s different in the world in general from here in the United States.”

So, while the WHO is monitoring the pandemic around the world, with a majority of people unvaccinated, the CDC is responding to the situation in the US, where the vaccines have been shown to work quite effectively against hospitalization from the delta variant. Only 13.9% of the global population is fully vaccinated, according to vaccine tracker site Our World in Data. The US nearly quadruples that number: 49.7% of Americans are considered fully vaccinated as of July 4, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

For Fauci and the CDC, the urgency is less about wearing a face mask after vaccination and more about getting a greater number of Americans vaccinated in the first place. On July 4, Fauci said that 99.2% of COVID-related deaths last month involved unvaccinated people. 


Fauci used data in this slide to explain why differences in global and US vaccination rates resulted in different mask-wearing recommendations.

PBS/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

What is WHO’s position on mask wearing?

Wearing a mask consistently continues to be important, even for people who are vaccinated, a WHO official said during a press briefing in late June. “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves.”

Wearing masks in public places is essential to keep people from inhaling particles that will cause them to become sick, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious disease epidemiologist, said during the same briefing.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are showing robust protection against variants, “breakthrough” infections may still sporadically occur. In a case in early June, a fully vaccinated woman in Napa, California, died from COVID-19. She was over 65 and was reported to have underlying medical conditions.

Why is the coronavirus delta variant serious?

The delta variant is the latest of new coronavirus variants and is the most contagious of the variants identified so far, according to the WHO. The delta variant has been identified in 96 countries so far and is spreading among the unvaccinated population, the organization said during the press conference.

“The delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Fauci said during a White House press briefing on June 22.


Some countries are returning to lockdowns to curb the spread.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will there be new mask mandates or tighter restrictions?

Some countries have already begun tightening COVID-19 restrictions. For instance, four cities across Australia have returned to lockdown, including Sydney’s state of New South Wales. In the US, Los Angeles County is strongly recommending face masks indoors, regardless of whether someone has been vaccinated, though masks aren’t required in most places. Some countries within Africa and Asia — for instance, South Africa and Malaysia — have also moved into lockdown due to the delta variant spreading.

Some places never loosened mask mandates, such as airports and airlines. In the US, other public transportation facilities require masks, such as buses and trains.

For more information, here’s what you need to know about “long COVID” and how it’s treated. Also, read up on these COVID-19 vaccine side effects and important dos and don’ts of getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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