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Free of the mask

It has been sort of odd. You got your second COVID-19 vaccine — or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine your first and only — then waited the required two weeks to be considered “fully vaccinated.”

But you still had to slip on your mask to go to the store, or visit a Post Office, or attend church. You still had to maneuver to keep fellow humans out of your social-distance circle. So, what was the point of the vaccine?

This week the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention clarified matters. The vaccines have proved so effective in preventing infection that the CDC now concludes the fully vaccinated can feel safe living their lives without being masked or worrying about social distancing. And wasn’t normal the goal all along?

Yes, a tiny fraction of the vaccinated have caught the coronavirus but, except for a few rare cases, those people have not gotten very sick — think catching a cold — or not sick at all.

Those who are not fully vaccinated should keep wearing masks and socially distancing, particularly indoors, so as not to spread the highly contagious virus to other unvaccinated individuals.

In Connecticut, the vaccination rate for those 65 and older, the folks most vulnerable to serious illness and death, is 92%.

Of course, there will be no way of telling if that person who is not wearing a mask bothered to get fully vaccinated. Hopefully, the vast majority of unvaccinated will do the responsible thing. In any event, if you have had your shots, they will not pose a significant threat to you.

An added benefit of the unmasking advisory may be further encouragement for the unvaccinated to get their shots.

The advisory becomes official policy in Connecticut next Wednesday, when the fully vaccinated will no longer have to wear a mask indoors, Gov. Ned Lamont announced.

Of course, people are free to keep wearing masks, even if vaccinated, if that makes them feel safer. And businesses can still mandate them.

The CDC recommends that masks still be required in airplanes, buses, trains, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. Connecticut is following that recommendation. It may be, given their ability to prevent the spread of other bacterial and viral diseases, masks may be permanently required in some of these high-risk environments.

We urged people to follow the science in wearing masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated. There is no reason to stop following the science now because it points to a return to normal.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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