Should you wear a mask if you’re vaccinated? CDC vs. WHO

Even absolutely vaccinated folks ought to wear masks, in accordance with the WHO.

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.

If you’re vaccinated towards COVID, is not it secure to toss the mask now? Well, it relies upon who you ask. The World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have fully totally different suggestions for masks for vaccinated people for fully totally different causes. The conflicting steerage comes because the extremely contagious delta variant continues to dominate new cases around the world, together with within the US. 

WHO Assistant Director General Dr. Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão prompted alarm on June 25 when he really useful that vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, even if they acquired two doses of a vaccine comparable to Pfizer or AstraZeneca. Days later, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky appeared to contradict the WHO’s advice, citing the excessive charge of safety that vaccinated folks have towards the delta variant and different COVID strains.

Does the dispute come right down to authorized legal responsibility, politics or science? Both the WHO and CDC agree that people who find themselves not vaccinated ought to proceed to wear face masks, however why are they in battle about a barrier over your nostril and mouth? This story has not too long ago been up to date.

Why are the CDC and WHO at odds over face masks for vaccinated folks?

A couple of days after the WHO suggestion that individuals who acquired the COVID-19 vaccine ought to proceed sporting a face mask, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a main authority on US infectious illness (and adviser to seven presidents) defined why the recommendation differs from the CDC’s. “There’s a reason for that,” Fauci mentioned in a virtual White House press briefing with Walensky. “The WHO is responsible for the planet as a whole. It’s different in the world in general from here in the United States.”

Only 23.7% of the worldwide inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated, in accordance with vaccine tracker web site Our World in Data. The US almost doubles that quantity: 47% of Americans are thought-about absolutely vaccinated as of June 30, in accordance with the Mayo Clinic. 

For Fauci and Walensky, the urgency is much less about sporting a face mask after vaccination and extra about getting a larger variety of Americans vaccinated within the first place. To again up his level, Fauci cited findings that present two doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are 90% or simpler towards hospitalization from the delta variant. 

So, whereas the WHO is monitoring the pandemic all over the world, with a majority of individuals unvaccinated, the CDC is commenting on the state of affairs within the US, the place the vaccines have been proven to work fairly nicely towards the variant. 


Dr. Anthony Fauci used knowledge on this slide to elucidate why variations in world and US vaccination charges resulted in two very distinct mask-wearing suggestions.

Screenshot by CNET

WHO’s steerage: The absolutely vaccinated ought to nonetheless wear masks

Wearing a mask constantly continues to be essential, even for people who find themselves vaccinated, WHO Assistant Director General Simão said during a press briefing on June 25. “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves.”

Wearing masks in public locations is important to assist folks from inhaling particles that may trigger them to turn into sick, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious illness epidemiologist, mentioned throughout that very same briefing.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are exhibiting robust protection against variants, “breakthrough” infections should sporadically happen. In an early case in June, a absolutely vaccinated girl in Napa, California, died from COVID-19. She was over 65 and was reported to have underlying medical conditions.

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CDC’s guidance: The fully vaccinated can go maskless

The CDC’s current guidance on mask wearing remains the same for fully vaccinated people. The guidelines say those who are fully vaccinated can “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing” except where required, such as in planes and businesses.

Walensky, the CDC’s director, stuck to that guidance on NBC’s Today show on June 30, saying fully vaccinated people are protected from the delta variant.

The CDC warned CNN on June 25 that there’s still a small chance fully vaccinated people can become infected with the new variant if they’re exposed. We’ve asked the CDC for comment.

Why is the coronavirus delta variant significant?

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 85 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

Could there be more mask mandates or greater 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 or not, 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 for 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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