Conversation Guide: Wearing a Mask

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Whether you have been vaccinated or not, it's safest to wear a mask. While getting vaccinated is the most important step for you to take to protect yourself and your community, wearing a mask provides even more protection. Masks protect you and people around you from getting COVID-19.

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Q: Why is it important to wear a mask?

Masks protect people around you from COVID-19. It is possible to be sick with COVID-19 and not know it, because not everyone feels sick. In this case, wearing a mask makes it less likely that you will spread the virus to others. 

Masks also protect you from COVID-19. When you wear a mask, it is less likely that you will get sick from breathing in the virus if it is in the air. 

Q: There are no mask requirements where I live. Should I still be wearing one?

COVID-19 is still infecting thousands of people every day including elderly, adults, teens and children. Regardless of whether masks are required in your area, you and your family will be safest if you wear a mask.

Q: I am fully vaccinated. Why do I still need to wear a mask?

Although it is uncommon for people to get sick with COVID-19 after they are vaccinated, and even rarer to get seriously ill, it can happen. Even if you are vaccinated, you can catch COVID-19 and may not know it because you may not feel sick at all. This makes it more likely that you could spread it to family and friends. 

When you wear a mask, it is less likely you spread COVID-19, which protects: 

  • People who are not vaccinated for whatever reason, including young children who cannot get the vaccine yet.
  • People in whom the vaccine can wear off faster, like older people.
  • People with certain health conditions like cancer or organ transplants, because the vaccine doesn’t work well in some people with serious conditions.   

While getting vaccinated is the most important step for you to take to protect yourself and your community, wearing a mask provides even more protection. 

Q: I am not vaccinated. Why should I get a vaccine if I still have to wear a mask?

The best way to protect yourself from getting sick and spreading COVID-19 to others is to get the vaccine. After getting fully vaccinated it is unlikely you will get sick from COVID-19, and even if you do, it will protect you from getting dangerously ill.

Because COVID-19 spreads very easily, wearing a mask provides even more protection for you, your friends and family, and your community. Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask are the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading COVID-19 to others.

Q: What is the safest way to wear a mask?

Masks must be worn properly to be effective. That means wearing it over your nose and mouth and making sure air does not leak out the top or sides of the mask. 

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your mask and after taking it off. Do not touch your mask when you are wearing it. 

If you wear a disposable mask, throw it away after wearing it once.

If you wear a reusable mask, make sure it has at least two layers of washable fabric. You should clean your reusable masks at least once per day with laundry soap and water.

Q: What is Delta and what does it have to do with masks?

Viruses are always changing. When a big change happens, scientists call it a new variant. Some variants are less harmful, while others are more dangerous. The Delta variant is one that scientists are very concerned about because it’s much easier to catch and spread to others, and it may cause more severe illness. As of September 2021, Delta is the most common COVID-19 variant in the United States.  There may be more variants like Delta in the future. 

Anyone can spread the Delta variant to others, even people who are fully vaccinated. When you wear a mask, it protects you and people around you from getting sick.