Viewpoint: Too far too fast? Two public health advocates say CDC courts unnecessary dangers with relaxed mask recommendations

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Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

There is still a Covid-19 death about every 2.5 minutes in the nation, and serious racial and ethnic disparities exists (e.g., in disproportionate access to vaccination services). [So there are] major concerns about the [CDC’s] decision to roll back some key safety measures when in fact we need all of the tools we have in the Covid-19 prevention toolbox for perhaps just a short time longer.

First, the CDC failed to tell people who are vaccinated what risks they might face (for themselves or their community) if they remove their masks, especially being in crowded events with unvaccinated persons, some of whom may not be wearing masks. We know from the clinical trials and effectiveness studies that even these outstanding vaccines are not perfect.

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People should have complete information and be empowered to make their own decisions about how to address this small risk after being fully vaccinated, perhaps with the additional second layer of protection that masks afford.

With the new announcement, every breakthrough infection that occurs will undermine CDC’s message that if you are vaccinated, it is completely safe to remove your mask. The new guidance was too certain and too declarative to be a public health message we can take to the bank.

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