When and How to Use Masks Safely

Woman wearing a mask on the streetThere are some important factors to keep in mind when it comes to wearing your mask; like, do you need to wear a mask after you’re vaccinated?

The short answer is yes. Masks are necessary as we work to get as many people as possible vaccinated. Until we reduce the amount of virus in our community and reach herd immunity, masks must still be worn to protect the rest of the community—even if you have had a vaccine.

Why? The vaccine takes time to begin working. It can take around two weeks after finishing the full vaccine series for the vaccine to be fully effective. In that time, you are vulnerable to catching COVID-19, so wearing a mask and continuing to wash your hands is important.

Also, after you’ve been vaccinated, you may still catch COVID-19 and have mild or even no symptoms. Current vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19 infection that makes people sick, but with new variants, there is a chance that you can still get sick if you are exposed to the virus.

For these reasons, it’s important to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing to make sure you do not pass the virus to others, especially to those who are not yet vaccinated. The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best ongoing protection from COVID-19.

Please note that the CDC recommends wearing a mask that has two or more layers of breathable yet tightly woven cotton fabric that fits snugly over your nose and mouth. This does not mean wearing two masks. It does mean wearing one well-fitting mask with multiple layers. If you have a cloth face covering that is thin and only one layer, it may be helpful to wear another on top of it as long as you can still breathe easily and they both fit properly. It is best to replace a thin face covering with a double-layer cloth face covering or a non-medical disposable mask. Multilayer cloth face coverings and disposable non-medical masks are more effective at preventing the transmission of the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. Even with a multilayer face covering, it is still important to practice physical distancing and hand hygiene. Learn more at the CDC Considerations for Wearing Masks webpage.

Looking ahead, it looks like 2021 will see us all wearing masks for a while. You could be saving a life simply by wearing it. Remember to wear your mask correctly:

  1. Cover your nose and mouth fully.
  2. Keep your mask on all the time when in public or with others not in your household.
  3. Wash your mask regularly.
  4. Stay physically distanced, even with your mask on.