As COVID-19 vaccination rates slowly increase, it’s important to know that wearing a mask remains just as important.

This is true even for those who are vaccinated. Medical experts outline several reasons for this.

First, we don’t yet know to what extent being vaccinated prevents someone from being an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier and transmitting the virus to others. After receiving two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you still might be infecting loved ones and others around you.

Second, vaccines don’t provide immediate protection and it’s not 100% even when fully in effect. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines averaged about 95% efficacy in clinical trials, but vaccines can be slightly less effective in the real world. Vaccines may be less effective for people with compromised immune systems.

Third, masks protect against any strain of the coronavirus, despite genetic mutations. Although studies indicate vaccines will work against new strains of the virus, some new versions appear to be more contagious than those currently circulating.

Fourth, wearing a mask provides protection against other respiratory viruses.

Fifth, wearing a mask sets a good example for others, especially those who don’t know that you’ve been vaccinated.

Especially in these early stages of vaccinations, consistent and careful use of masks remains a key to slowing the spread of COVID-19, returning to some semblance of normalcy and saving lives.

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