COLORADO SPRINGS — Earlier this week - on Wednesday May 12th - I was able to speak with Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth, about vaccine dosing and how a vaccine works differently in the body than medication.
I also happened to ask Dr. Barron her thoughts about wearing a mask, or not wearing a mask, after someone is vaccinated, from a strictly medical perspective. Her answers became more relevant after the CDC made their new mask recommendations for vaccinated people on Thursday, May 13th.
Dr. Barron said: “I think you have to think about what are your individual risks and what are the risks of the people that you live with.”
Yes, if you are fully vaccinated and generally in good health, your risks from COVID-19 are much lower. But Dr. Barron says we need to think about more than our personal risks. “While you may be pretty healthy and you know that the vaccine works, you probably could take more risk and not wear a mask or do more activities that may have more potential for exposure.” But she added there may also be household members who live with you who don't have that same luxury - because of underlying disease, like cancer or other conditions that affect their immune system. “While you may only get a runny nose, you could still cause them to get sick even if it may not be as severe, if they're also vaccinated.”
When it comes to weighing risks, we do it every day whether we think about it or not. Dr. Barron explains, “I think about all the things we do in Colorado that are fun and exciting: skiing, rock climbing, hiking. All those carry some level of risk, and we all think it through - is this a good idea or not? Sometimes we’re in over our heads and sometimes we're not.”
The bottom line is getting a vaccine lowers your risk of disease, as does washing your hands frequently as a regular habit, and at times wearing a mask. So, think about what you feel is the best idea for you and those around you, and make the best choice.
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