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Masks no longer required for fully vaccinated people both indoor and outdoor, with few exceptions

With nearly 119 million Americans fully vaccinated as of May 13, CDC director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky relaxes federal mask guidance

Erica Richardson, Staff Reporter
Originally published June 11, 2021

Photo by Cyclical Core (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Photo by Cyclical Core (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Following guidance from Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky of the Center for Disease Control Prevention, Governor Jay Inslee amended Washington’s mask policy for fully vaccinated people.

Fully vaccinated people (two weeks after the first shot for Johnson & Johnson or after the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna) can now participate in any outdoor or indoor activity with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks. 

As recommended by the CDC, fully vaccinated people should still wear masks when in the presence of non-vaccinated persons or those in the process of being vaccinated. Fully-vaccinated people also need to wear their masks on airplanes, public transportation, in schools and in hospitals or prisons (MyNorthwest.com).

In an NBC interview, Dr. David Dowdy, associate professor at Johns Hopkins, clarified the reasoning for the new policy.

“I think part of the problem before this was that there was something of a mixed message: The vaccines are very effective, but you still have to wear a mask,” Dowdy said. “This is now a strong statement that we know these vaccines work, and for those who are fully vaccinated, it’s appropriate to take some steps toward living life a bit more normally.”

In an email interview, School nurse Laurie Tirtanadi agrees with the recommendations on how to proceed with the new mask policy for fully-vaccinated people.

“Even though the number of COVID-19 infections are decreasing, the pandemic isn’t over yet. It probably would have behooved us to stay with our safety precautions till we are closer to herd immunity,” Tirtanadi said.

As of May 24, Washington state is 40.75% fully vaccinated, according to the Washington Department of Health. A population needs to reach 70% vaccination to have herd immunity.

“Overall, the number of hospitalizations and positive Covid test results have decreased in the last 6 months,” Tirtanadi said. “As more and more people are vaccinated this is expected to continue to decline.”

According to Governor Inslee, Washington will ease all restrictions by June 30. Some businesses like Trader Joes and Starbucks have lifted mask requirements for fully-vaccinated people.

“In my opinion, Health and Safety Precautions should continue. People are in close proximity in these stores,” said Tirtanadi. “How do you distinguish between people who are not wearing a mask because they are vaccinated and those not wearing a mask and are not vaccinated?”

“Health and Safety Precautions are tough. They are tough on individuals, tough on families, tough on schools, tough on communities and tough on businesses. This needs to be recognized,” Tirtanadi said. “But if the life of your sister or your grandfather or your neighbor’s aunt is saved, well to me it is worth it.”

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Masks no longer required for fully vaccinated people both indoor and outdoor, with few exceptions