The numerous promising vaccine candidates against COVID-19 has led to much excitement the world over. Vaccination campaigns are already underway in some countries. However, experts say that even with the vaccine, the need for wearing face coverings will not immediately go away.
“COVID-appropriate behaviour shouldn’t stop and it is independent of the vaccine,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state government’s COVID-19 taskforce and advisor to its vaccination campaign. As such, measures such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings are likely to continue over the next few months even as people receive the vaccine. “There should be no carelessness in following COVID prevention measures,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recently.
The reason why you need to continue wearing a face covering even after being vaccinated is because immunisation consists of two shots, spaced several weeks apart. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, the doses are administered three weeks apart; in the case of Moderna’s vaccine, the gap is four weeks. Additionally, the effects are not immediate and a person could still contract the disease and infect others in the timeframe between receiving the first dose and the second. “COVID-19 trials studied safety and production of antibodies, but none have looked at transmission,” noted vaccine expert Dr Naveen Thacker.
The wearing of face coverings is one of the simplest but most effective measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends they be worn “in areas of known or suspected community or cluster COVID-19 transmission, WHO advises people to wear a mask, in indoor or in outdoor settings, where physical distancing of at least one meter cannot be maintained. When indoors with others, people should wear a mask unless ventilation has been assessed to be adequate.” The appropriate way to wear a face covering is so that it covers both the nose and the mouth.