Masks are one of the best measures to suppress transmission of COVID-19, save our precious lives, and protect others from infection as well. Since the rise of COVID-19, masks have been considered an essential part of a global safety protocol. This includes avoiding crowded and closed settings, maintaining physical distance, and more. Depending on the type, masks can be used either to prevent transmission or simply for protection. This article discusses the need for wearing a mask even after vaccination and the correct way to wear one.
“I’m vaccinated. Do I need to wear a mask?”
Usually, you aren’t required to wear a mask if you have been vaccinated unless you are in crowded areas with immunocompromised or unvaccinated people. The COVID-19 vaccines are crucial in allowing things to return to the way they were before the pandemic. Furthermore, the latest CDC guidance on masks relaxes the rules for individuals who have been vaccinated in most settings.
However, you must know that you won’t have full protection from COVID-19 until two weeks after the final dose. So if you haven’t reached that point yet, you should refrain from making any changes to your masking habits. Your vaccine may also decrease effectiveness due to the COVID-19 variants like Delta and Delta Plus, which further emphasize the importance of wearing your mask.
How are Masks Effective?
According to medical research, COVID-19 spreads from individual to individual through respiratory droplets as they are released into the air when an individual talks, coughs, or sneezes. Masks are a simple barrier that ensures that your respiratory droplets do not reach others. Moreover, masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the mouth and nose. Even if you aren’t feeling sick, you should still wear a mask, as many studies have found that individuals with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic can spread the virus to others.
It is important to wear a mask when you are indoors with people you don’t live with since COVID-19 spreads among those in close contact with one another.
Who Should Not Wear Masks?
Those who are exempted from the requirement to wear a mask are:
- An individual with a disability who cannot safely wear a mask due to their disability.
- Kids who are aged below the age of 2 years
- People for whom wearing masks would create problems or risks to the wellbeing of their workplace as per the workplace risk assessment.
Types of Masks
- Cloth masks
Their effectiveness is comparatively less, and they cannot filter the bacterial particles in the air. These can be washed before re-using.
- Layered surgical masks
These are disposable 3-layered polypropylene masks that can block particle droplets and air. They are considered to be very effective against the COVID-19 virus. These can be used one-time only.
- N95 Respirator
These are permitted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of CDC to help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are generally meant for medical professionals and emergency workers only.
Best Way to Wear Masks
- Wash and clean your hands properly before putting on the mask.
- Position the mast properly over your mouth and nose and secure it below your chin.
- Ensure your mask closely fits without any gaps on the sides of your face.
- Avoid touching the mask (except by the straps).
- Make sure you can breathe easily.
- If you are not vaccinated yet, maintain a 6-foot distance between you and other people
Additionally, make sure that your mask is clean before putting it on. Washable cloth masks can be hand washed or machine washed in warm water.
Masks are not One-Size-Fits-All
All types of masks come in various sizes (from S to XL). It’s important to choose the one that fits your face perfectly (air-tight or snug-fit face mask) so that contaminated air or substances don’t slip through the gaps.
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