Recently, the CDC has posted a notice for individuals who have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccination. The statement itself says that individuals who have gotten both doses of the vaccine and have waited the allotted two weeks afterward no longer need to wear face masks in public places. While this is a refreshing sign of things to come, there are still many reasons why healthy people will still benefit from wearing a face mask.
Lessen the Damage of Cold and Flu Season
Just like COVID, the common cold and influenza variants A and B are most often spread via droplets in the air when we cough or sneeze. Since face masks help prevent these droplets from becoming airborne, many countries have normalized wearing face masks during the cold and flu season. Wearing face masks in crowded public places like the subway or at work may help decrease the chances of a sick person spreading the virus if they have to go out. Plus, asymptomatic people can always benefit from wearing a mask as well during this time.
Lessen Allergy Symptoms
If the sudden surge in popularity has taught us one thing, it’s that not only can face masks filter tiny droplets from our bodies, but they can filter pollen as well. A study from September 2020 finds that wearing a face mask of any kind can reduce allergy symptoms in anyone who experiences pollen-based allergies. Both surgical masks and N95 masks work to decrease symptoms most, but a cloth mask can also block most pollen from reaching the face as well.
Protect Against Secondhand Smoke
In addition to helping prevent allergy symptoms, N95 masks can help filter out cigarette smoke. If you live in an area without designated smoking locations or in a city where it may be challenging to get away from air pollution in general, a mask that filters air is ideal. Other face masks may work to filter out cigarette smoke, but masks explicitly designed for air filtration are most effective.
Protect Immunocompromised Individuals
Even before the pandemic, many immunocompromised individuals had to wear face masks, regardless of how well they felt. For someone with a weakened immune system, visiting family and friends can be incredibly dangerous. Now especially, it is important to stay extra careful to avoid getting sick. For those that cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons, this is doubly so.
It is essential for those who aren’t immunocompromised to keep in mind that some people may need extra protection in public spaces. Wearing a mask around them is not only a precautionary measure but a sign of care as well.
Covid Isn’t Over
Finally, we must be aware that this pandemic hasn’t ended. While many people are getting vaccinated, the virus itself is so common in the United States that reaching herd immunity may take far longer than in other countries. To continue staying safe, it is best to wear a mask, especially in crowded areas around unfamiliar people.