I was sitting around with some friends recently talking about the coronavirus vaccines currently in development being more than 90% effective. That news gave us hope. But then, the conversation quickly turned to the excitement of not wearing a mask anymore: “If the vaccine is this effective, why would we need to wear a mask? I’m done wearing it and do not need to anymore,” one friend said.
If any of your friends are as groan-worthy as mine, make sure to educate them that wearing a mask is still as strong as medicine until we get an actual vaccine.
I’m choosing to listen to experts like Dr. Christina Brennan, vice president of clinical research at Feinstein’s Institute for Medical Research. During a recent “60 Minutes” interview, she said if she had to choose between a mask or a vaccine, she’s going with mask.
“With our social distancing, wearing of the mask, the data is already showing that it’s been effective. It’s, you know, cost savings, and it’s effective. And it can go a long way,” Brennan said.
Then there’s the evidence-based opinion of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said mask-wearing more than likely averted more than 200,000 of cases by late May.
With the data showing that wearing a mask is useful, it is crucial to keep this in mind as we become closer to a vaccine, especially with the question marks that come with the vaccine.
“Some of the vaccines may require one or more boosters to provide maximum protection, meaning you have to get another shot after a certain period of time,” according to Dr. Mark Kortepeter, a public health & general preventive medicine specialist in Washington, D.C., writing in Forbes magazine.
When the vaccine does become available sometime in 2021, we won’t know where anyone else is in their vaccination schedule, and therefore, how well protected they are, which is why we need to continue protecting ourselves when around others, he said. We also won’t really know how effective the vaccine is after that.
“The FDA has stated that the minimum effectiveness of a licensed vaccine will have to be 50%,” Kortepeter said. “A vaccine that only meets the 50% standard would mean only half of those who receive the vaccine will be fully protected.”
While we should be excited and hopeful for vaccine that can provide some protection from the ravages of COVID-19, we still should not forget guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have been in place to keep us safe.
Please do not be like Sarah Jamison in Melissa Schaub’s TikTok post where she tries to prove wearing a mask does not work. Her example of wearing a mask and blowing out a lighter an inch away from her face is not valid and proves nothing.
Instead, listen to Melissa, and wear a mask, be respectful. It is equivalent to fighting someone with one hand behind your back without wearing a mask with the vaccine. If you have ever been in a fight, you know you need two hands to defend yourself.