KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance – that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks – is “no exception” to the science, according to one Kansas health leader.
And that being the case, Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, said Kansas is pleased to be in line with the CDC’s announcement.
“Our numbers are still favorable in Kansas,” Norman said. “I think if people keep getting vaccinated, I think we can really keep beating this thing into submission.”
Similarly, Dr. Dana Hawkinson, of the University of Kansas Health System, said he was “elated” about the new CDC guidance.
“This means that we have had the resources, and we followed those resources and we follow the science that has come with that, meaning the vaccines,” Hawkinson said. “That is a great step forward, but there is that caveat in that you have to be fully vaccinated and so that is very important.”
Still, Dr. David Wild, also of the University of Kansas Health System, said the risk of infection in vaccinated people is “really, really, really low.”
“We know, for example, that throughout the course of the pandemic there was more transmission indoors, and that the vaccine may have provided benefit outdoors," Wild said. "It also does indoors, but we knew that the reduction in that risk of transmission outdoors was very clear early.
"And now we have enough evidence to say, included in a number of studies the CDC cited in their guidance today, that the risk of transmission from and to those who are fully vaccinated in indoor settings is low as well.”
The community though, according to Hawkinson, still needs to be aware of those who are “very susceptible” to the virus, such as the immunocompromised.
“Although this is a great step forward, we still have to encourage those people that we know, those people in our bubbles, outside of our bubbles, to really get vaccinated and adhere to those rules,” he said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can certainly not wear masks and do those things that the CDC talked about, but the important thing is for everybody to get vaccinated.”
But it's not yet time to “totally discard” masks, according to Norman.
“There will be settings where you will look around and say I'd be better off with a mask, even if I've been vaccinated,” Norman said. “Certainly anybody that's not been vaccinated, continue to do the same thing that they've been doing, wear a mask, social distancing.”