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Fully Vaccinated Travelers Still Need To Wear A Mask Says CDC

Full vaccination does not mean full protection against all strains of Covid-19, at least not for now. That’s because current vaccines in use like Pfizer and Modern have only been proven effective against the original Covid-19 strain but not against its variants.

Although getting the jab does help your body build antibodies that can fight against Covid-19, it is unclear how those antibodies work against covid variants. That is why the CDC says fully vaccinated people should continue with coronavirus safety measures in public places. 

“Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others,” says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Some of those variants like the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 virus originating in the UK have been making headlines around the world for the speed at which they are spreading. 

“Multiple lines of evidence indicate that B.1.1.7 is more efficiently transmitted than are other SARS-CoV-2 variants,” according to a report published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

And it’s not just the B.1.1.7. variant that has made its way into the US, there are several others. There have also been reported cases of the B135 variant, which is often referred to as the South African variant. The Brazilian P1 variant is also a cause for concern within US borders.  

In addition to the uncertainty over the effectiveness of the vaccines against variants is the uncertainty over whether vaccines stop the spread. Although current vaccines may prevent people from getting sick from the original Covid-19 strain, it is unclear whether or not they have the ability to carry and transmit it. 

If a vaccinated person can carry the strain, it means they can transmit the virus to those that are not unvaccinated including children.  Due to the uncertainty of the variants and the effectiveness of current vaccines, the CDC says safety measures like wearing a mask and keeping six feet apart remain necessary for fully vaccinated people. 

Fully vaccinated people should also continue to stay away from crowded places and avoid medium and large gatherings. Being fully vaccinated also does not preclude people from following regulations in buses and other forms of public transportation as well as in public buildings. Mask wearing and social distancing is mandatory in these places whether you have been vaccinated or not. 

In light of all of these uncertainties, it is no surprise that people need to remain vigilant about their health, vaccinated or not. Anyone feeling symptoms should get tested right away and stay at home until conclusive results are received for the next steps.  

Despite the mask and distancing requirements, there are some advantages the fully vaccinated population has over the unvaccinated public. Masks and distancing six feet are not necessary when visiting indoors with other fully vaccinated people. Nor do those measures have to be taken when visiting indoors with one non-vaccinated household in which no resident is at an increased risk of illness from Covid-19. 

Fully vaccinated people can also travel within the US without having to get tested before they travel or after they travel. And there is no requirement for quarantine after travel. However, travel abroad is a different story.

Covid testing may be required before international travel if the destination country requires it. Additionally, covid testing must be done within 3 days before traveling to the US from abroad as well as after landing. The CDC still considers international travel a high risk and suggests Americans avoid it if possible. 

There is also another big question about covid vaccines that is unlikely to be answered anytime soon. It is still unclear how long the current vaccines stay effective. Some early indications from vaccine makers have given timelines of 6 months plus so far. However, there is yet to be a definitive statement about the life of a vaccine by government health officials and vaccine makers alike. 

Close to 200 million doses of vaccines have been administered in the US  to date. But the answers to many of the lingering questions won’t likely be answered until millions more are delivered. Until then, the CDC recommends following safety measures regardless of whether or not you have received a vaccine. 


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