DENVER (KDVR) — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that people who are fully vaccinated are unlikely to transmit the coronavirus to others.
“It’s all great news and what we hoped was going to happen with vaccinations,” said Dr. Richard Zane, UCHealth chief innovation officer and emergency medicine expert.
The study is not complete. The data still needs to be analyzed, published and peer reviewed. But doctors across the country are optimistic.
“It’s scientifically intuitive and now we have hard evidence that it’s going to be true,” Zane said.
That evidence is leading many people to wonder, if they’re fully vaccinated, why are doctors, public health experts and elected officials telling them to keep wearing the masks.
“What I think everybody wants it to mean, is that we can get rid of the masks. And it’s certainly a step in that direction,” Zane said. “We need a significant number of people to get vaccinated. We have to achieve herd immunity and then we can get rid of the masks.”
Right now, more than 1 million people in Colorado are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and another million and a half are halfway there, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That’s about 46% of the population, but still well below the 70% to 80% scientists believe is needed for herd immunity.
“We haven’t factored in the variants into that equation yet,” said Dr. James Gaensbauer, a Denver Health infectious disease expert. “One of the challenges is that with the variants and the fact that some of the vaccines may not have quite a strong protection against the variant, we’re starting to see some of those estimates of herd immunity creeping upward.”
When asked about what this new data means for masks in Colorado, CDPHE responded:
“Each vaccine is a step toward getting back to normal. Soon everyone in our state will be able to get the protection they need, but it’s going to take some time. In the meantime, the CDC has interim recommendations for individuals who have completed their vaccine series, and it includes wearing a mask while in public, physical distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.
“The current mask order expires April 3rd. The Governor intends to sign a new 30 day mask order that will be modified to account for where we are in the pandemic, the varied cases count by county, and the feedback we have received through public comment.
“The CDC study evaluated the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines in real world settings, and while the results are great news, we still are learning about how vaccines protect against transmission to other individuals and against new variants that are circulating.”