Wear a mask if you’re vaccinated? Why the WHO and CDC don’t have the same guidance

Even absolutely vaccinated folks ought to put on masks, in line with the WHO.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For the newest information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

Should masks be tossed for many who are vaccinated towards COVID? It relies upon who you ask. In the case of the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are solely completely different suggestions for masks for vaccinated people for solely completely different causes. The dispute additionally comes all the way down to authorized legal responsibility or politics. 

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

The conflicting recommendation comes as the extremely contagious delta variant continues to dominate new cases around the world, together with in the US. Both the WHO and CDC agree that people who find themselves not vaccinated ought to proceed to put on face masks, however why are they at odds about a barrier over your nostril and mouth? This story has been up to date with new data.

Why do the WHO and CDC disagree on face masks for vaccinated folks?

Just a few days after the WHO suggestion that individuals who obtained the COVID-19 vaccine ought to proceed carrying 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 international inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated, in line with vaccine tracker website Our World in Data. The US almost doubles that quantity: 47% of Americans are thought-about absolutely vaccinated as of June 30, in line with the Mayo Clinic.

For Fauci and Walensky, the urgency is much less about carrying a face mask after vaccination and extra about getting a better variety of Americans vaccinated in 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.


Fauci used information on this slide to elucidate why variations in international and US vaccination charges resulted in two official mask-wearing suggestions that appeared at odds.

Screenshot by CNET

WHO’s guidance: Vaccinated folks ought to put on face masks

Wearing a mask constantly continues to be necessary, 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 can trigger them to change into sick, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious illness epidemiologist, mentioned throughout that same briefing.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are exhibiting robust protection against variants, “breakthrough” infections should still sporadically happen. In an early case in June, a absolutely vaccinated lady 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: Vaccinated people can go maskless in the US

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 agency’s director, stuck to that guidance on NBC’s Today show Wednesday, saying fully vaccinated people are protected from the delta variant.

The CDC warned CNN on Saturday 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 important?

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

Will there be more mask mandates and lockdowns?

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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