All Americans, who got their vaccines this month, have only one question on the tip of their tongue,"Are we mask-free yet?". The answer is not simple, it has a few nuances.
Finally, after over a year of suffering, vaccines against COVID-19 are indicating a promising future ahead. On Thursday, the US center for disease control and prevention declared that fully vaccinated people could let go of SOPs and enjoy a pre-pandemic life. (1)
But wait, there is still a catch in this announcement. It doesn't apply to all Americans alike. There are some people who, despite being vaccinated, need to take care of themselves. You or anyone in your family might be one of them. So keep an eye on the following conditions.
People with severely weak immunity
For all the folks with a weakened defense system, the challenges of Coronavirus are not finished yet. Since their bodies can not protect themselves against minor illnesses, they will still need to wear masks.
What causes their immunity to drop down? It can be due to one of the following reasons:
- They have undergone an organ transplant. To stop their body from attacking transplanted organs, doctors prescribe such patients with immunosuppressive drugs. These medicines deliberately tone down the defense system of the body.
- They could be suffering from some immune system ailment like AIDS or HIV etc. These diseases lower down the body's natural immunity and expose it to viruses and bacteria. (2)
- People who are undergoing chemotherapy also have a compromised immune system because of the nature of their treatment.
- People suffering from autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and SLE etc. They are also on immunosuppressive medications.
All these people rely on us healthy individuals to wear masks as well. Because we may not get ill ourselves, but we may still be transmitting the virus to them.
"My father had a kidney transplant five years ago. Since then, he gets exposed to any kind of pathogen. Ever since COVID-19 started, I have been scared for him. He won't be able to survive the deadly virus. So, I still take a shower after entering the home, even though I am vaccinated now." says Ellen, a barista at a local bar.
Common diseases that weaken our immune system
Apart from the above-mentioned serious conditions, certain diseases may not harm our body like AIDS or HIV. But still, such patients should ask their doctors before letting go of all precautions. These include:
Patients suffering from these conditions have no harm from vaccines. For the most part, vaccines work for them, just like any healthy individual. But still, their situation puts them at risk, where if they contract the disease, somehow their body wouldn't be able to fight it off efficiently.
Of course, the decision is up to them, but it is better if they still wear the mask and observe SOPs as per local laws. As the CDC stated “Except as needed by federal, national, provincial, tribal, or territorial legislation, guidelines, and regulations, including local business and occupational instructions, fully vaccinated persons can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing themselves” (5)
All in all, the recent guidance has brought a wave of optimism and joy to our lives. We hope that by the end of this year, we would be able to see a complete mask-free America. But until then, if you are doubtful regarding the decision to abandon SOPs, consult your physician.