Myth Busters: If I Receive My COVID-19 Vaccine, I No Longer Have to Wear a Mask.

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It’s finally a new year. And as with every new year, it comes with new hope that we can leave the past behind us and usher in a better and brighter tomorrow. After the difficult year that was 2020, this has never been truer.

Luckily, leading the charge toward a happier and healthier 2021 is the COVID-19 vaccine, which, in recent weeks, has started being administered throughout the nation. The excitement for the vaccine is certainly palpable, with the belief that receiving it will mark a return to normal and the end of quarantining, social distancing and wearing masks. While that is a goal in the long run, it won’t be an instantaneous change.

“Even if you do receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you should continue to take precautions when it comes to protecting yourself and others from the disease,” says Dr. Chinh Vien Van of the White-Wilson Immediate Care Clinic. “It won’t be an on-and-off type of situation. Time is a necessary component as well.”

Vaccines work by stimulating your body’s immune system to develop antibodies used to fight virus.

“This process takes time,” explains Dr. Van. “It could be a week, it could be a month or longer, and during this time, it is possible that you may contract the virus and become sick. Further, both COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA require two doses to reach full effectiveness, administered either 21 days or 28 days apart. This also leaves time where you’re not fully protected you may become infected.”

Another aspect working against an instant fix is the vaccine’s level of effectiveness. Initial studies have shown high levels of effectiveness in the approved vaccines’ abilities to reduce/prevent severe illness. Less research has been done on the vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing a person from being able to transmit the disease. Scientists believe that it is likely for the vaccines to have some effectiveness at preventing transmission, but more study is necessary and even then, it is very unlikely that number will be 100%.

“There is always a chance that you or someone you know will fall into that percentage of exception,” says Dr. Van. “It is better to be safe than sorry and to use all the tools we have available to guard yourself and your loved ones from infection.”

“I have no doubt there will be a day that we can be rid of these increased restrictions,” he continues. “Whether it is in a few months or a year will, in part, depend on our willingness to continue taking protective measures while everyone waits to receive the vaccine. Until that time, we must all keep wearing our marks, social distancing and avoid gatherings to slow the spread of this virus.”

This myth is busted.

Dr. Chinh Vien Van is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and practices at the White-Wilson Immediate Care Clinics in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre and Niceville. White-Wilson Immediate Care Clinics are open seven days a week in Fort Walton Beach. Click here to learn more about Dr. Van and his approach to patient care, and view his video bio.