Masks must continue to be worn after Covid-19 vaccination

Abigail Lee, Science and Technology Editor

The FDA authorized the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on December 11, 2020, meaning vaccine doses will be shipped immediately around the U.S. Following CDC approval, millions of people may be vaccinated this month. However, those who receive the vaccine will still need to wear masks in public.  

The vaccines prevent people from getting sick with Covid-19, but do not necessarily eliminate transmission, according to The New York Times. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines prove to be more than 90% effective at preventing serious symptoms for those vaccinated, but it is unclear whether those people can still be infected without symptoms and spread the virus to others. 

The vaccines create antibodies, which may not reach the nose and throat to prevent infections. The antibodies are much more likely to protect the lungs, the part that is most susceptible to serious symptoms. A vaccinated person would need to keep wearing a mask to avoid the possibility of silent spreading. 

Pfizer and Moderna are both preparing to study certain trial participants to examine potential cases of infection post-vaccination. The results may not be available until early 2021. 

According to Intelligencer, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be available in the U.S. by December 15 and December 21, respectively. The CDC recommended that healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities should receive the vaccine first. It is planned for most of the general public to be vaccinated by early June. 

Until then, cases could continue rising to devastating levels, and a vaccine would conclude the pandemic after much irrevocable damage. 

The vaccine distribution for Covid-19 will be the largest in U.S. history, and government and healthcare systems are preparing for the coordination effort. While the onus for preventing further spread is on the governments, mask-wearing is a crucial step in the months before widespread vaccine rollout. 

“Experts emphasize a simple point here: A vaccine can’t, obviously, prevent the infections and deaths we’ve already had,” according to Vox, “But if we just get more people to the point where they get a vaccine, then a lot of lives could be saved.”