Masks Redux

As St. Louis City and County re-institute mask mandates for everyone in public and/or commercial indoor settings, I was asked here on Facebook:

“Why do vaccinated people need to wear masks? Either the vaccine works and masks are useless or it doesn’t work and the anti-vaccine people are right.”

My thoughts:

That’s a great question. And you are correct. People who have been vaccinated have little chance of getting sick and an even lower chance to becoming hospitalized or dying, even with the new delta variant.

So yes, vaccinated people really don’t need to wear masks for their own protection. They are already protected.

These days, though, vaccinated people need to wear masks to protect unvaccinated people. Period. Because so many people have delayed getting vaccinated, this delta variant, which spreads and replicates much more quickly and robustly than previous strains, may be picked up and passed on even by vaccinated people. Vaccinated people are very unlikely to get hurt by it, but people who aren’t vaccinated might get sick and die of it. To wear a mask when you’re vaccinated is not to fall victim to partisan, progressive paranoia, but rather it is something we can all do out of concern for other people who are taking longer to face the reality of this plague and do what needs to be done for themselves and for their loved ones to end it.

So if you are vaccinated and you don’t care what happens to unvaccinated people, well, I can see why you might not want to wear a mask. And believe me, I know lots of people who are vaccinated who are plenty pissed off at unvaccinated people right now. Still, I think that anyone who has gotten vaccinated has taken their responsibility to themselves and to their community seriously and, despite their anger and frustration, would not want to be the cause, even unintentional, of death or illness in another. So I fully support this decision by Mayor Tishaura O. Jones and County Executive Sam Page that we in St. Louis go back to wearing masks.

It’s obvious, though, that everyone of every political persuasion would love to get rid of these masks. Forever. And the ONLY way that that can happen is for everyone to step up and get vaccinated.



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Ken Haller

Pediatrician, Educator, Singer, Writer, Advocate, Actor, Improviser. Views are my own, not those of any institution where I’m employed.