With the city now recommending that even vaccinated people, like me, wear masks indoors and in crowds, I had some questions, which I put to the city Health Department.
Here are my questions and edited versions of the replies from the Health Department’s Matt Rankin.
Q: I am fully vaccinated. How do masks protect me?
A: Masks protect people from spreading virus to others, but we also know now that masks protect the wearer as well [from breakthrough infection].
Q: What is the likelihood a vaccinated person will get a breakthrough infection?
A: Very low, but still a concern. Out of 754,821 fully vaccinated residents, there have been 741 (1.3%) breakthrough cases since January 2021. There have been 12 deaths (1.4% of all deaths) and 71 hospitalizations (1.5% of all hospitalizations). It is important to note that your chances of becoming infected with COVID are more than 90% lower after being fully vaccinated. And if infected, it is less severe. Vaccines are about mitigating risk, lowering the chances for a bad outcome.
Q: What is the severity of a breakthrough infection in a vaccinated person?
A: Most breakthrough symptoms range from very mild to asymptomatic, and people tend to recover quickly.
Q: Can a vaccinated person still be a carrier and infect others?
A: Vaccinated persons can contract, carry, and can transmit the virus to others. However, their contagion period is much smaller than that of an unvaccinated person — two days versus 7-10 days.
So, that’s that.
I will follow recommendations and go back to the mask indoors. It amounts to punishing those who took precautions — the vaccinated — to protect people too stupid and selfish to protect themselves — the unvaccinated.