4 Reasons To Wear Masks Even After Getting The Vaccine
- Dr. Pragnya Rao
- 3 Min Read
The virus that gripped the world in its tight fists- the SARS-CoV-2 may be retreating from its control over our lives. Fewer positive cases, the advent of vaccines and the return of normal activities seem to be on the horizon of our daily lives.
The Indian domestic vaccine program is rolling out two kinds of vaccines: the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India and the Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech Int. Ltd. While the latter has come in the radar for doubts over its efficacy and safety profile, one thing is clear- the vaccine is here, at our doorsteps. We have been waiting for this relief for too long, and it will soon be our turn to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, is it time for our masks to move to the underbelly of our dustbins? Or our sanitisers tucked away in a corner to use when another pandemic swings by? Well, no. Do not be ready to shun these important protective measures just as yet. Here’s why:
Vaccines are not 100% effective
Yes, no vaccine can promise complete protection against disease. The effectiveness of a vaccine is evaluated based on how helpful it is in reducing the disease burden and spread. Some people who take the vaccine might not develop protection in the form of antibodies, and for some, protection may wane off over time. So, one may develop the disease if exposed to the virus even when vaccinated, if adequate safety measures are not followed.
You do not get immediate protection as soon as you take the shot
The vaccines we have been given as children also follow this pattern. As soon as you take the shot, you are not automatically immune to the virus. Antibodies, even when vaccinated, take 2-4 weeks to develop in the system. So, the time between the vaccine shot and antibody development can be quite long. During this period, you can not only get infected but can also spread the virus. Moreover, completing the vaccination course is important for proper development of acquired immunity against the disease.
Getting vaccinated does not mean you are incapable of spreading the virus
While some vaccines can provide protection from getting sick and even spreading the disease (such as measles) when it comes to flu-shots and COVID vaccines, the shots can help give you protection from becoming sick post-exposure to the virus, but they cannot prevent you from getting infected or spreading the virus to others.
And this is important since many people such as those on blood-thinners, those who are immunocompromised, those with severe allergic reactions as well as children may not be able to get the vaccination done due to absolute or relative contraindications. Wearing masks, practising social distancing and washing your hands regularly, even when vaccinated, can protect those around you from becoming infected.
Masks and precautionary measures have a greater role in protecting you from COVID-19 than a vaccine
With new genetic variants of the COVID virus emerging in different parts of the world, the virus can get more contagious. Apart from the reasons already listed, this only adds up to the need for wearing masks and minding your hand hygiene even after getting vaccinated.
Vaccine or no vaccine, communicable diseases that can potentially turn into pandemics, such as COVID-19, are not going away any time soon. While many things may not be under our control, using masks & following safety protocols are definitely something we can do to keep the virus at bay.