No retail or restaurant workers want to wind up becoming the vaccine police. But as mask guidelines change, that may be what we need!
As more people finally get the COVID-19 vaccine, municipalities and businesses decided to begin relaxing mask rules. Most of the changes affect those who are “fully vaccinated.” But how do we know whether someone who claims to be actually is? Maybe we really do need a mask police.
I’m kidding, but only partially.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted many of its mask mandates just in time for summer travel. That may or may not be a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong: If you’re vaccinated, it’s a good thing. But if you didn’t get the vaccine, your danger is only increasing.
For a year now, I’ve heard people who oppose the vaccine talking about herd immunity. If enough people get the vaccine, they reason they won’t have to worry about it. They don’t want to be guinea pigs, but they also don’t mind if someone else chooses to be. In fact, they depend on others getting the shot so they can get on with their own lives.
I have to wonder if that strategy is about to get them in trouble.
Mask guidelines lifted in many cases for the fully vaccinated
Multiple retail outlets changed their policies for some of their customers. Walmart and Target, for instance, now say their fully vaccinated customers no longer need to wear masks in their stores.
You’re considered fully vaccinated, incidentally, two weeks after you take the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks after you take the second dose of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
So once you reach that point, you’re off the hook when it comes to wearing masks in some public places..
Not all. Just some. Airline passengers, at the moment, will still have to mask up. For now.
That raises problems for some businesses who are worried they may have to act as the “vaccine police.” They’re afraid they could be held liable if a customer gets sick in their store. They may not be liable, depending on state law, if they uphold health guidelines.
But how do you make sure your customers and employees are following the rules if you don’t know how to know that?
No one is demanding customers show their vaccination card before they enter a store.
So we’re left to rely on the honor system.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said you shouldn’t changes a mandate to take off the masks.
“Sooner or later somebody is going to get a breakthrough infection, get seriously ill and probably die,” Fauci said.
He said it probably already happened. But he then said when you’re talking about tens of millions of people, that’s not unheard of.
He said that when he is in a situation where people around him might be uncomfortable with others wearing masks, he wears a mask.
A lot of people refuse to be so considerate.
The latest estimate places the fully vaccinated U.S. population at below 40%. “Herd immunity” for COVID-19 relies on a percentage of at least 75%.
We have a long way to go.
People who don’t want to take the vaccine and don’t want to wear a mask said for months they’ll just sit back and let everyone else act as “guinea pigs.” They want others to do what they don’t want to do.
As a result, they reason, they’ll be safe with little to no effort.
But then you have to consider what we’ve been hearing for a year about wearing masks. From the start of the pandemic, experts said wearing a mask protects those around you more than it protects you.
Since then, newer guidance suggests that people who wear masks may benefit to some degree as well.
But from day one, they said you wear a mask to protect those around you. Those around you wear a mask to protect you.
That protection is about to disappear.
The people who refuse to get vaccinated — and who may have been protected, to at least some degree, by all of that mask-wearing — are about to lose a line of defense.
When you get the vaccine, that doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID-19. It means you have a very small chance of getting seriously ill or dying if you do get infected.
I took my vaccine. I could still get COVID-19. But if I do, I may not even notice symptoms, or I might mistake them for a bad sinus day.
If I’m not wearing a mask because I don’t have to, I can still spread COVID-19 to those around me. But if they choose to dodge the vaccine, that has to be on them.
I did my part.
No one will ask me to prove my vaccination status.
Ironically, the people who least want anyone demanding proof are the ones whose risk of getting COVID-19 is now increasing.
Those who expect everyone else to get vaccinated should want those who do to prove their status. Especially if the fully vaccinated — and now maskless — are close by.
Some will point out that some folks who have legitimate allergies to the vaccine or who are immunocompromised can’t get vaccinated. I agree. Valid point.
But those who don’t — but just don’t want to take the vaccine — are still preventing us from reaching herd immunity. They’re putting those people at risk as well.
No one wants to be the vaccine police. But maybe that’s just what we need until we do reach that herd immunity.
The infection rate may be dropping, but I’m afraid we may not be done with COVID-19 just yet.