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Will the Unvaccinated Wear Masks This Summer? Should You Feel Safe?

May 25, 2021

How do you tell the difference between the fully vaccinated and the unvaccinated in maskless crowds this summer? In this COVID-19 world, anyone who becomes seriously ill or hospitalized with the virus is most certainly unvaccinated. Anyone fully vaccinated, at least two weeks removed from a final vaccine dose, should feel safe in almost any maskless scenario.

That's the bottom line of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's surprising new federal guidance last week that allows fully vaccinated people to go virtually anywhere without a mask. Wearing a mask will become a freedom-of-choice (for the fully vaccinated), honor-system (for the unvaccinated) issue unless otherwise mandated by states or local businesses. Wednesday, May 19, Connecticut adopted a no-mask policy in most public spaces for the fully vaccinated.

Already, Walmart, Target, Costco, Trader Joe's and Starbucks are among the national retailers no longer requiring the fully vaccinated to wear masks. The CDC still recommends the unvaccinated wear masks and social distance in public places and everyone wear masks in healthcare facilities, public transportation, airplanes and in congregate settings such as homeless shelters and prisons.

"Right now, especially in a state like Connecticut, is a good time to give us new guidelines and be a little less restrictive," said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. "We need to watch the numbers (of cases) very closely over the next few weeks to months and see what happens. But certainly, at least in the state of Connecticut, we're in a good spot."

Without a national vaccine verification program, the CDC instead is appealing to the public's "individual assessment or your risk," as the agency's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press""

"Remember, these mask (guidelines) indoors only pertain to people who are vaccinated," said Dr. Bieluch. "If you're vaccinated, you should feel safe"" On the same day CDC announced the new guidance, Hartford HealthCare and the Pediatric Care Alliance - a partnership formed last fall between Hartford HealthCare and Connecticut Children's - vaccinated the first eligible 12- to 15-year-olds at the Hartford Convention Center after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for that age group.

Some of these same youths will be attending summer camps and, this fall, local schools.

"I would encourage parents to get their children vaccinated," said Dr. Bieluch. "Safe operating in schools and summer camps really depends on as many people as possible being vaccinated""


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