Dan Mitchinson: CDC allows vaccinated US citizens to remove masks indoors

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For Americans vaccinated against Covid-19, daily life may look increasingly different than for those who aren't inoculated yet following Thursday's mask guidance, experts said.
"We are on the right path (for) people who are fully immunized," National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN. "You can take your mask off indoors as well as outdoors."
But he added: "We are not at the end of this story. There are still a lot of people who haven't gotten that shot."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 -- meaning those who have waited two weeks after their final dose -- generally don't need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors.
The CDC arrived at its new guidance because of declining case rates, increasing numbers of vaccinations and growing understanding of the risk of viral spread by vaccinated people, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CBS on Friday.
"In the last two weeks, our cases have come down by a third," she said. "We have a rapidly declining case right probably because our vaccination rate is going up.
"Over the last several weeks, we have seen emerging signs that if you were vaccinated, you're safe and protected from getting Covid-19 and you really have a very low risk of transmitting to other people and that these vaccines are really working against the variants that we have circulating here in the United States," she said.
For those who experienced no immediate impact from receiving their vaccine, "now your life is going to change," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, adding that although some businesses, like airlines, may keep mask mandates in place, venues like grocery stores, restaurants, bars and bowling alleys may soon look much more like they did pre-pandemic.
The CDC's decision may have the indirect effect of being an incentive for people who are on the fence about getting the vaccine, but it was based on the science showing how strong vaccine protection is, Fauci said.
But as a sense of normalcy resumes for those who are protected, experts warn that the risk of infection may grow for those who are not vaccinated.
"We keep thinking of this country as a vaccinated and an unvaccinated country," CNN medical analyst Sanjay Gupta said. "What it's slowly going to turn into is a vaccinated and an infected country."
And without a way to verify who is vaccinated and who is not, the guidance may inhibit the US from reaching herd immunity and put those who cannot yet be vaccinated or are immuno-compromised in more danger, said CNN medical analyst Leana Wen.
"They were overly cautious and now I think they are throwing caution to the wind," Wen said of the CDC's guidelines.
People should defer to local rules on mask-wearing, Walensky told NBC on Friday.
"We really do need to understand that this country is not uniform. There are places in this country that still have higher rates of disease. There are places in this country that still have lower rates of vaccination," she said.
"People need to look into their local environment because, ultimately, we know that this virus is an opportunist, and where there are low rates of vaccination, it will emerge again," Walensky said. "We really need to make sure that we get people vaccinated, and we still continue to take precautions if people are not vaccinated."
Masks may stay on for some
Those who are not vaccinated are threatening their own health if they go out in public and forego the social-distancing and mask usage guidance, experts said.
And people who have compromised immune systems from situations like chemotherapy and organ transplants may not have a sufficient immune response to safely remove their masks in public, Wen said.
Although studies are ongoing for younger children, vaccines have only been approved for children as young as 12. So, those who are not yet old enough to get their doses still need to wear their masks indoors and around others, Fauci said....

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