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Walnut Creek Magazine

Get Vaxxed And Go Unmasked

May 14, 2021 09:59AM ● By Harper Klein

It’s finally safe to take off your mask, indoors and outdoors, as long as you are fully vaccinated. After 14 months of wearing masks, this is exciting news for the country. It also represents a dramatic shift in public health policy for pandemic-weary Americans who have pivoted month after month in response to changing guidelines. According to the CDC, more than 154 million Americans have had at least one shot and 117 million are fully vaccinated, about 35 percent of the population.

“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing Thursday. “Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.”

But as with many surprise announcements from the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the past year, it shifts the burden of implementation and verification to states and local governments. Earlier this week Contra Costa health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told the Board of Supervisors the county will remain in the state’s orange tier until June 15, when California lifts restrictions statewide. ”Hospitalizations have gone up recently among two notable groups. It's almost exclusively among unvaccinated, or partially-vaccinated persons," he said.

In another breakthrough this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. Farnitano said the county has opened vaccine appointments to that age group at all county sites

The relaxation of masking does not apply to airplanes, buses, trains, and other public transportation, to health-care settings, or where state or local restrictions still require them, stated Walensky. She also noted that children under the age of 12, who are ineligible for vaccines, should continue to wear masks while in the classroom. 

Businesses are expected to establish their own policies and may require masks, especially since some workers may remain unvaccinated. Delta Airlines was the first to respond by mandating the vaccine for all new employees. While we wait for local health officials to address many unanswered questions, one thing is clear, if you want to stay safe from the dangers of COVID-19, get vaccinated.  

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