Consider These Things When Deciding to Stop Using A Mask

July 21, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
In May, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention changed its COVID-19 mask recommendations for fully vaccinated people, allowing people who qualify to go maskless indoors and outdoors, except in places where masks are required by federal, state or local law. Since then, you may have noticed that some people have continued to wear masks, while others are showing their entire faces to the world. The change in mask guidance may be a welcome relief or an uncomfortable reality, depending on your perspective. 

If you’re undecided, consider these factors to decide whether to ditch your mask or keep wearing one:

  • Your health history. Have you been concerned about your health during the pandemic because of chronic conditions or a weakened immune system? Are you undergoing treatment for cancer? Has your doctor suggested that you should limit your contact with others because of your health?
  • Your family’s health history. After re-entering society without a mask on, will you be in close contact with parents, grandparents or other relatives who are frail, in poor health or immune-compromised? Do you have babies or young children with serious health conditions who are too young to be vaccinated?
  • The length of your outing. If you’ll be getting used to the idea of going maskless again, will you start out with a brief visit to the supermarket for 10 items, or are you planning a marathon trip to the mall to update your wardrobe and eat in the food court?
  • The amount of people you’ll encounter. Are you expecting to eat in a half-empty restaurant on a Tuesday evening, or will you visit a crowded, popular bar on a Saturday night? Do you feel comfortable going to a movie theater or attending an indoor sporting event without a mask if there are no restrictions on the number of people who can buy tickets?
  • Your comfort level. Are you concerned that unvaccinated people may be walking around without masks on, even though the CDC guidance is intended for people who are fully vaccinated? Do you simply feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask, even if you realize that it isn’t medically necessary for your health and well-being?

“For many people, there are no right or wrong answers, it’s a matter of gauging situations and honoring your comfort levels,” says Georgios Giannakopoulos, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Bayshore and Riverview Medical Center. “Also say that people shouldn’t feel pressured by friends or relatives before they’re ready to give up their masks. Do it at your own pace, for your own reasons.”



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