Claim: Some Vietnamese-Americans believe that you do not need to continue wearing a mask if you’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Rating: This claim is MOSTLY FALSE. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you continue to wear a mask even after you have been vaccinated. The vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, but there is not enough data on whether they prevent the spread of coronavirus. On March 8, the CDC issued new recommendations saying those who have been vaccinated can gather inside without masks with other people who have been vaccinated. But those who have been vaccinated should still wear masks in public.
The vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are remarkably effective. Both Pfizer and Moderna report that their vaccines show approximately 95% efficacy in preventing both mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19. Moreover, the Pfizer report shows this level of efficacy applies across all age groups, racial and ethnic groups, and all genders.
However, it is unclear how well the vaccines protect against the spread of the coronavirus. The Pfizer and Moderna studies tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with COVID-19. The studies did not, however, track how many vaccinated people became infected without developing symptoms and could have transmitted the virus to others. It is possible that vaccinated people can still spread the virus to their community and put unvaccinated people at risk.
Moreover, for the vaccinated person, the vaccine itself does not provide 100% protection. In the short term, it takes time for the vaccine’s effectiveness to build up. For the Pfizer vaccine, for example, immune protection does not start until 12 days after the first shot and it reaches 52% effectiveness a few weeks later. The 95% effectiveness of the vaccine is not reached until two weeks after the second shot.
For Moderna, the protection rate is 51% two weeks after the first shot, and 94% after the second dose. The 94% effectiveness of the vaccine is not reached until two weeks after the second shot.
Even though 95% efficacy is very high, it still means that 1 out of 20 people who have been vaccinated can still get moderate to severe COVID-19 infections.
Mask wearing partially prevents an infected person from transmitting COVID-19 to others, and it protects the wearer from COVID-19 infections. So, the number 1 reason to continue wearing a mask is to protect yourself!
The CDC states that with the current scientific data, it does not know if and when it can stop recommending that people wear masks. The CDC recommends that to protect yourself and your community, you should:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Avoid crowds.
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
- Wash your hands often.
On March 8, the CDC issued new recommendations saying those who have been vaccinated can gather inside without masks with other people who have been vaccinated. But those who have been vaccinated should still wear masks in public.
Conclusion: In order to protect yourself and your community, you need to continue to wear a mask even after you have completed your vaccination.
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Viet Fact Check has partnered with a number of community and health organizations to educate the Vietnamese-American community on the COVID-19 vaccine. The project is supported by: Progressive Vietnamese American Organization (PIVOT), Asian Health Services (AHS), the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Union of North American Vietnamese American Students (UNAVSA), Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Asian American Research Center on Health (ARCH) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO).