COVID-19: The New Do’s and Don’ts for Mask Use
By Neil Jaddou MD and Jose Ferraz Neto MD
On 5/13/2021 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced a new guideline regarding the use of mask during the pandemic. It was based on several studies with fully vaccinated individuals which strongly suggested that those individuals have a very small possibility to get infected or transmit the virus to others. Two days later Michigan through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) adopted those recommendations for all Michiganders. Navigating thorough those guidelines can be an arduous task. Therefore, we compiled a list addressing the most frequent questions to aid you with these new changes.
1. Do I need to use a mask if I am fully vaccinated?
No, according to CDC and MDHHS updated guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance indoors or outdoors, except that businesses have the right to require you to wear a mask.
2. What does fully vaccinated mean?
Fully vaccinated means that two weeks after taking 2nd dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two weeks after taking Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.
3. If I am in a setting with people with uncertain vaccination status, should I use a mask?
Fully vaccinated individuals can go mask-free even if you are in an environment with unvaccinated individuals.
4. I am fully vaccinated, but experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, should I wear a mask?
Yes, you should wear a mask and practice social distancing until you can get tested for COVID19 and it shows a negative result.
I need to travel domestically or internationally, should I wear a mask?
Yes, even if you are vaccinated, all travelers are required to wear a mask on all trains, airplanes, buses, and other forms of public transportation, including transport hubs such as airports and train stations.
5. Do I need to wear a mask if I am going grocery shopping?
No, however, some establishments can still require you to wear a mask. For examples stores that do not require a mask for fully vaccinated people include Kroger, Costco, Target, and Walmart. The list continues to grow daily.
6. Do I need to wear a mask if I am going to the Gym?
7. Do I need to wear a mask if I am performing any outdoor activity?
No, according to MDHHS, whether you are vaccinated or not, you can perform those activities without wearing a mask.
9- Do you need to wear a mask in School?
School policy can vary significantly, and masks should be used if required. Children over 2 years of age who are not fully vaccinated are still required to wear a mask.
10-I am going to the Hospital / Healthcare facility / Nursing home, should I wear a mask?
Yes, fully vaccinated or not, you should continue to wear a mask in healthcare settings.
11- Do I need to wear a mask if I take an Uber/Lyft?
Yes, even if you are vaccinated, mask should be worn.
11- How will someone verify their vaccination status?
Businesses, schools, airlines, and other places may ask for vaccination proof, but as of now, there is not any system in place to check those records. Everyone must be honest to themselves and wear masks until they are fully vaccinated. Not doing so can place themselves and others at risk. These recent changes are a great landmark in the fight against COVID-19. By July 1st, 2021, new rules may come out to possibly eliminate the masks altogether. However, we should not believe that the struggle is over. Much effort is required from citizens to keep this momentum going. We strongly advocate everyone to get vaccinated. It is best proven way to eradicate this virus. To get vaccinated is not only doing well to yourself, but also to your family and community.
Dr. Neil Jaddou is former professor of Microbiology and Immunology. Currently he is a medical director of Somerset Family Medicine (SFM) in Troy and Sterling Heights. Dr. Jose Neto is a medical extern at SFM.