I’ve recently noticed less diligent mask-wearing and more frequent gathering in bars and restaurants among young adults. The number of new COVID-19 cases has dropped in some states as more and more people have been vaccinated. Many young adults have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and many more have already had COVID-19. I don’t know if those are the reasons that people are more complacent about gathering without masks or if people are just sick of wearing them, but I want to encourage you to hang in there and wear that mask a little longer.
Just because you’ve had COVID-19 or a vaccine doesn’t mean you can’t get sick again. (although this is infrequent after recent infection or when fully vaccinated) Previous infection and/or vaccination may or may not protect you against new variants that are just becoming more prevalent in the US.
So, even if you’re willing to personally take the risk of getting infected because you might not get very sick, do you really want to be isolated when you develop symptoms or take the very real risk of spreading the infection to others who may not fare as well as you if infected?
Even if you don’t get COVID-19, you might get a common cold or the flu once your mask comes off. Flu infection rates are at an all time low this season because the same prevention measures are effective for COVID-19 and colds and flu.
However, without physical distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing, a surge in flu cases is likely and the timing would be very bad. Keep in mind that flu vaccination, while very helpful, is not as effective as the COVID-19 vaccine and can wear off near the end of the season. (which is now!) Taking off your mask now puts you at risk of not only COVID-19, but other respiratory infections.
Because symptoms of colds and flu are in many ways identical to COVID-19, you still need to isolate and/or get a COVID test if you get sick regardless of previous infection or vaccination.
Haven’t you enjoyed having fewer colds and flu-like illnesses this year? If you have, I encourage you to keep up the good work and continue wearing a mask, washing your hands, and physical distancing until herd immunity is reached and flu season is over!
Be safe and stay well. It will end. You’ve got this!