Ben Garves

Should I wear a mask after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Students wearing masks in an art installation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new vaccine doesn't do away with mask wearing - it makes wearing a mask infinitely more important. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Wearing a mask after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 – everyone is asking – is it still necessary? We’ll dig into this today, especially in the light of the emergency use approval for a second vaccine and (more to come on this tomorrow) the discovery of a mutated COVID-19 virus in London. 

We can probably all agree that masks and social distancing are not our favorite parts of this whole Coronavirus pandemic. I know many of the people I talk to have heralded the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine as the end-all, be-all solution to a return to normalcy. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

How does the Coronavirus vaccine work?

Right now, in the United States, we’ve received emergency use approval for two vaccines – one from Pfizer and BioNTech, and another from Moderna. Both of these vaccines utilized a new approach, called MRNA. It basically tells your immune system to prepare for a Coronavirus-shaped intruder without actually introducing your body to a Coronavirus. This is a big shift in technology because previous vaccines, like Chicken Pox and Influenza, instead relied on a deactivated (inert) strain of the virus in question, which would get your immune system working overtime to combat the virus before you could catch it.

Can you get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?

This new approach is still impressive, with these vaccines estimated at 90 to 95% effective, but without having to introduce anyone in a lab to the virus while it’s being produced. However, because someone who receives one of these vaccines has not actually had the virus, they can still get it and they can still spread it. In two ways! You can literally touch something that has the Coronavirus on it, high five someone, and spread it to them through contact, and you can still have Coronavirus in your system, sneeze on someone because you were a jerk not wearing a mask, and spread it that way. You’re just 90-95% likely to be asymptomatic because your body has developed the ability to fight the COVID-19 disease, but not the ability to prevent itself from contracting the Coronavirus that causes it.

Can you spread COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?

But wait, if the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of Coronavirus, why does it exist? It’s an immediate protection of those who get vaccinated against the dangerous lung and heart symptoms. So, you absolutely should get the vaccine the instant you’re given the opportunity. But, you should continue to wear a mask in public at all times because your likelihood of carrying the virus and not knowing it are infinitely higher. This means when you see someone like Mike Pence walking around kissing babies without a mask on because he was vaccinated, he’s literally endangering the life of that baby, that baby’s parents, etc.

Just an FYI on that.

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