People are understandably nervous about going maskless after being vaccinated

People are understandably nervous about going maskless after being vaccinated

March 16, 2021

It’s been a year since the Coronavirus pandemic started. We’ve been through millions of deaths, depression, hysteria and loneliness. Let’s just say 2020 wasn’t the year we thought it would be. 2021 is seemingly looking up due to the roll out of the COVID vaccines. However, the world is collectively suffering from PTSD. The CDC stated that it is ok for vaccinated people to hang out maskless with other fully vaccinated people or with people from one household who are unvaccinated. However many folks are skeptical, as they should be. Dr. Fauci recently stated that after getting vaccinated that we shouldn’t let our guards down. He said that there hasn’t been enough research on whether vaccinated people can carry the virus and inadvertently pass it to a non-vaccinated person. For that reason you should still wear a mask in public after getting the shot. NBC news has more on people’s reactions to potentially going maskless along with some quotes from experts about it.

“Heaven help me! Yes,” Susan Cohen, 76, a fully vaccinated New Yorker, told NBC News when asked if she could ever see herself taking off the mask and returning to her old life.

But Cohen is not yet ready to go maskless, especially in public.

“I love restaurants, I love movies,” she said. “Even if I were perfectly safe, the scientific experts don’t think it’s time yet. I can afford to wait.”

Jacqueline Gollan, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that’s the survival instinct kicking in.

“Many of us learned to reduce our risk of getting the virus by avoiding others,” she said. “We viewed social activities as an unsafe experience. We learned being around others was potentially catastrophic, so we perceived these scenarios with apprehension and vigilance.”

And that fear doesn’t lift like magic the minute a person gets vaccinated.

“It is normal to have anxiety about resuming social activities,” Gollan said, even while following federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Dr. Aderonke Pederson, an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg, agreed.

“Right now, we know that two weeks after we get vaccinated, it is fine to gather with other fully vaccinated people,” she said. “However, it is expected that many of us may struggle with the transition back to some form of in-person socialization. The emotional impact of this past year may linger with us for longer than we might expect.”

Everybody has their own way of processing grief and trauma, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any American who hasn’t been affected in some way by the pandemic, Pederson said.

“For some people, there is ongoing grief for lost loves ones, missed funerals, missed goodbyes, and for others the economic impact has meant changes in lifestyle,” she said. “And for the Black community, these challenges have been compounded by the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black people and ongoing racism that remains pervasive.”

[From NBC New]

I look forward to being fully vaccinated more so that I can travel (most of my friends live out of state). To be fair, I don’t think I will give up wearing a mask in public because I didn’t get sick much last year like I normally do. I think the mask and excessive handwashing kept me from the allergy and upper respiratory infections I would normally get when the seasons change. But I am also concerned that there are way too many anti-vaxxers and folks who don’t believe COVID was real for me to trust the public in that way. However, I do look forward to my close friends and family getting fully vaccinated so that we can hang out without masks because I hate not being able to hug them or see their faces. I am advocating for all of my relatives and friends to get vaccinated for their safety, but I also want the world to achieve herd immunity by getting 70% of its population vaccinated. We have lost so much this past year. I just want us to move past this moment but with more humility and compassion. I believe we are collectively suffering from anxiety and depression and we all need a hug, to travel, to love. You know, the normal sh*t we are used to doing unencumbered. My cousin told me that his doctor told him he is suffering from agoraphobia. And I believe many of us have developed mental health complications because of the last year. So in addition to needing a hug, we also need to heal, collectively. Anyhow, I hope you all are either vaccinated or are on a waiting list and will be vaccinated soon. I am sure we are all looking forward to some sort of family/friend reunion in the near future.

Photos credit: Julian Wan, Gabrielle Clare Marino and The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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