By Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer
With the rollout and widening eligibility of COVID-19 vaccines alongside the lifting of the mask mandate by Gov. Greg Abbott, it can be tempting to give up on precautions and to start frequenting businesses and public places without a mask. However, it is still our duty to love and care for the people around us by continuing to wear our mask until everyone who wants a vaccine has had one.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You are not fully protected until this time.
Even after you are considered fully vaccinated, I believe it is still important to wear your mask in public until everyone who wants a vaccine has received one.
Those who you may run into in public do not know that you are fully vaccinated. In light of this, your lack of safety precautions around them may continue to make them nervous or fearful.
In addition, it’s simply a kind thing to do.
When walking in public and going into stores and restaurants, you converse and make contact with several different people, all with varying levels of income, health and lifestyles. These workers may be fearful of receiving the virus and having to quarantine without income for two weeks, or they may be fearful of catching it and passing it onto their grandmother or relative with health problems.
We truly never know what the people around us are going through, experiencing or worried about, and it shows immense respect for those who are serving us when we decide to simply wear a mask and place their mind at greater ease.
As stated before, workers and other individuals do not know the details of your immunity or vaccination records and it is a normal assumption that the person standing behind you maskless could have COVID-19.
Masks are not worn to protect ourselves, they are worn to protect those around us. According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the Massachusetts General Hospital, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, masks prevent people who are asymptomatic from spreading the virus.
As vaccines continue to roll out and as individuals continue to receive them, life is looking promising for returning to normal soon enough. It is even believed that herd immunity may be achieved if around 50% to 67% of the population receive the vaccine.
As more people receive the vaccine, the CDC states that fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors without physical distancing.
These rule changes are glimpses of hope into how the near future could look for us. If we just hold onto the rules a little longer, there will be a future without masks. The more we follow these rules, the quicker that future will come.
By the simple act of putting a mask over our nose and mouth for the limited time that we are standing in a restaurant, walking through a store or talking to different workers, we can make those around us not only feel comfortable, but also keep them safe from the invisible spread of COVID-19.
We’re almost at the end. Keep going.