CDC: Vaccinated people don't need masks most of the time
Vaccine available at multiple locations
Last updated 5/14/2021 at 11:35am
The federal government has changed the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States,, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks most of the time.
“Well, today is a great day for America in our long battle with the coronavirus,” President Joe Biden said from the Rose Garden Thursday after CDC issued its new guidance.
Until more was known about the effectiveness of vaccines and the chance of vaccinated people transmitting the virus, CDC had recommended vaccinated people wear a mask in public and groups unless everyone in the group is vaccinated.
With more data on the effectiveness of the vaccines and the chance of vaccinated people spreading the virus, along with the rate of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths dropping in the nation, CDC issued its new recommendations Thursday.
The CDC website says people generally are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving a shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine and two weeks after receiving a second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Some have concerns about new guidance
The announcement has raised concerns from people who question if it is too soon to stop requiring masks and about how people will know who is vaccinated and who is not.
The medical emergencies ongoing in some countries like Brazil and India with high rates of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths also raised questions about the timing of CDC’s guidance.
Biden cited the rollout of vaccines in the U.S. over the past five months as a main reason for the mask recommendation.
“And as the virus tragically rages in other countries, as other nations — even wealthy nations — are mired in the challenges of a slow vaccine rollout and poor economic conditions as a result, things are very different here,” he said.
CDC’s recommendations say states, local governments, businesses and organizations can have their own mask requirements and people need to follow those. Additionally, everyone must wear masks in some instances including when with people not socially distanced who might not be vaccinated, such as on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
A plea for safety and vaccinations
Biden called on people to continue to follow guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 until they are vaccinated.
“Look, we’ve gotten this far; please protect yourself until you get to the finish line,“ Biden said. “Because, as great as this announcement is today, we don’t want to let up. We all know how tough this virus has been. The safest thing for the country is for everyone to get vaccinated.”
CDC reports that since the virus was first detected in the U.S. early last year, more than 32 million cases have been confirmed here and more than 580,000 COVID-19-related deaths have been confirmed.
While rates are much lower now, cases continue to arise in the United States, including in Montana and in this part of the state.
Blaine, Chouteau and Hill counties all have been reporting new cases in the past few weeks, with many of the cases in younger people including some in the 0-10 year and 11-20 age ranges, mirroring what much of the rest of the country has seen.
And the cases are still hitting local schools. Havre Public Schools this week reported that, although none of the confirmed cases had been around other employees or students during the period of possible exposure and no contact tracing for people associated with the district was required, this week saw seven more people associated with the district confirmed with cases of COVID-19, bringing the district to a total of 10 for the month.
But Biden cited the nation being at its lowest rate of hospitalizations and deaths since April of last year as a reason for the new recommendations.
He still called on non-vaccinated people to use precautions.
Biden said the federal government is not forcing non-vaccinated people to wear a mask, but he made a plea to people to get vaccinated or wear a mask.
“And for now, after a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is very simple: Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. It’s vax’ed or masked. Get vaccinated,” he said. “If you’re vaccinated, you can be around the vaccinated or unvaccinated people. But if you’re not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask for your own protection and the protection of other unvaccinated people. The choice is yours.”
Biden also said some people may not feel comfortable not wearing a mask, even if they are vaccinated. He asked people to treat others who are wearing a mask with kindness and respect.
“We’ve had too much conflict, too much bitterness, too much anger, too much polarization of this issue about wearing masks. Let’s put it to rest,” he said.
The announcement comes as the federal government this week authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children ages 12-15.
That vaccine already was authorized for ages 16 and older.
Other vaccines are only authorized for people 18 and older, although trials are underway with other vaccines for children 12 and older and other trials, including by Pfizer, also are underway for children 6 months to 12 years.
The Pfizer vaccine is not available at many locations due to the requirement it be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, but is available at the Rocky Boy and Fort Belknap health services and both reservation health services are making them available off the reservation, as well as letting people not associated with the reservation get the vaccine.
Northern Montana Health Center announced Thursday that Fort Belknap would be using its flu clinic, located east of Northern Montana Hospital, to distribute Pfizer vaccine in a walk-in only clinic next Thursday from 11 a.m. to
The release said parents can call 262-1585 for more information.
Rocky Boy Health Center and Hill County Health Department also said Thursday they were finding times and locations for the Rocky Boy Health Center to use its mobile clinics to provide access off the reservation.
Rocky Boy is scheduling vaccinations at its health center as well as holding clinics on the reservation and using its mobile clinic to provide vaccinations to people who can’t get to the health center or vaccination events.
The mobile clinic is scheduled to be at the former Stone Child College location at the Rocky Boy Agency Tuesday and at the Volunteer Fire Department at Bonneau Village next Thursday, and people can call 395-1655 to schedule an appointment, a health center Facebook post says.
A Fort Belknap Indian Community Facebook post says people can call 353-3219 to schedule an appointment at its health center and walkins are welcome there.
Blaine County Health Department in a release Wednesday said it plans to include the 12-and-older age group in upcoming vaccination clinics as supplies allow. Its next clinic is next Thursday 3-7 p.m. at the Commercial Building at the Blaine County Fairgrounds in Chinook. People with questions can call 406-357-2345.
Locations that had Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines continue to offer vaccinations for people 18 and older.
In Havre, along with Northern’s flu clinic taking calls at 406-262-1585 to schedule vaccinations, Hill County Health Department is taking calls at 406-400-2415 to schedule appointments for the third Tuesdays of the month starting May 18 for Moderna vaccinations, and other locations also have vaccine available.
Bullhook Community Health Center had not responded to a request for an update by printing deadline this morning, but the https://www.vaccines.gov vaccine finder listed the health center as a vaccination source with the number (406) 395-4305 listed to call.
Gary & Leo’s Health Mart is taking walkins during pharmacy hours for Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, and Western Drug Pharmacy is taking calls at 406-265-9601 to schedule Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccinations.
Walmart asks people to log into http://walmart.com/covidvaccine to schedule a vaccination.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines also are available at the Chouteau County Health Department, 406-622-3771, and at Big Sandy Pharmacy, 406-622-5588. People need to call and get signed up at each facility in order to get a vaccine.
In Liberty County, people can call 406-759-5517 to schedule an appointment for a Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccination, and if enough people sign up, could get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for shots.