Vaccinated Guam residents need to keep wearing masks

MASKED: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show how masks are effective and are not. Illustration courtesy of CDC

By today, there will be close to 11,000 doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 that have been administered to thousands of Guam residents.

Health care workers and senior citizens age 60 and older who have been vaccinated, still should keep wearing masks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the continued wearing of masks, even by those who have been vaccinated, and especially if only one dose has been administered.

One dose of the COVID-19 results in a 50% chance of protection from COVID-19. A second dose, needed within 21 to 30 days after the first shot, has been touted to have an efficacy rate of about 95%, but the vaccine may not completely shield those who have only recently been vaccinated.

Last Tuesday, it was confirmed that a firefighter was infected with COVID-19 after having received the first and second doses of the vaccine, The Guam Daily Post reported.

It's a cautionary tale, said Dr. Hoa Nguyen chairman of the governor's Physicians Advisory Group.

“People think that we have the vaccine, we’re done (with the pandemic). No, no we’re not done,” he said. “The only thing the vaccine does is it cuts down the hospitalization and death rate but it doesn’t mean you won’t catch the virus."

According to experts, COVID-19 infection among vaccinated individuals still can happen, especially if someone came into contact with a COVID-19 positive patient just before or soon after getting the second vaccine dose. Symptoms generally begin to appear five to seven days after contact.

We have at least seven to eight months to go before 70% of the population on Guam is projected to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nguyen said the island is likely to have "herd immunity" from COVID-19 at that time.

Herd immunity is achieved when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, according to a report posted on Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's website. 

Until then, let's keep practicing the safeguards we have become accustomed to.
The CDC says:
 
• Keep wearing masks, even after getting vaccinated.
• Keep at least 6 feet away from others not from your home and while wearing a mask, especially when indoors.
• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching or removing your mask.

You're not only protecting yourself. You're also protecting others around you.

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