If you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, you might feel like you can do away with the face mask and face shield that have become our constant companions over the past 10 months. However, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) after vaccination is still just as important as ever.
1. There simply aren’t enough people who have been vaccinated yet.
While there are several variables that will need to be evaluated before we can relax our safety precautions, the number of vaccinated Americans is currently too low to offer enough protection from the vaccine alone and could take several months. We will watch the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) for further guidance about PPE and vaccinations.
2. We don’t yet know if vaccination stops asymptomatic spread.
While clinical trials indicate that COVID-19 vaccines, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are about 95% effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19 in the vaccine recipient, we do not yet know how well they will help stop the spread of the virus. Keeping up our safety standards protects ourselves and others until we have more data on the full effectiveness of the vaccine.
3. We also know that the virus is evolving, and there is some early indication that the current vaccines may not be fully protective for these new variants.
This means it is critical that we do everything we can to try to reduce the numbers of COVID cases—both by vaccinating people as quickly as possible and using the tried-and-true protective measures to reduce the evolution and spread of new variants.
4. We must continue to role model for our community.
When patients come to our facilities to receive care, or when they see us out in the community, it will not be visible from the outside who has and who has not received the vaccine. We must continue to model good safety behaviors, like wearing a mask and keeping our distance, until enough individuals have been vaccinated across the United States and until new infection rates have decreased.