Why You Still Need To Wear A Face Mask Even If You’re Vaccinated

You might have noticed that some people who have been vaccinated assume now they’ve had their jab, they can do away with masks altogether. The logic? Surely they can’t get Covid, or pass it on, if they’ve had the vaccine? Wrong.

Paul Hunter, a Professor in Medicine at the University of East Anglia, explains: “The vaccine does not prevent all infections and you can still be infectious even after vaccination with any of the current vaccines. Also, you can still get sick.”

He and other scientists are urging people to keep wearing face masks after being vaccinated with the first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

So why is it important to keep wearing masks? Well, we still don’t know how much vaccination stops infection and subsequent virus transmission. Studies have shown some reduced transmission after vaccination, but it’s not enough to suggest it stops you passing on the virus if you have it. After having the jab, there’s still a possibility you could catch the virus, not develop symptoms, but pass it on to someone who isn’t vaccinated – who could become very sick.

Face masks are a major factor in preventing infected individuals from spreading the virus, says Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology at Warwick Medical School. “Wearing a face mask after you’ve been vaccinated is still important,” he says. “Face masks can stop you getting infected – they can act as a barrier against airborne droplets and also keep your nose warm and moist which also inhibits infection.”

It’s also important to remember it takes time for vaccines to protect you – another reason why mask-wearing is crucial. Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in Communicable Disease Control and past chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, explains: “The level of protection builds for at least four or five weeks after the first dose, and for at least another week after the boost. So, until then, you are not as well protected as you will eventually be.”

Currently, 32m have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, while just over 7.5m have received their second dose and are therefore deemed fully vaccinated. But there’s still some way to go before all adults are vaccinated – the government has set itself a deadline of the end of July to have offered everyone over the age of 18 their first dose.

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