Although not required: The Ministry of Health officially announced this week that in view of the population’s response to vaccines and curbing the epidemic in Israel, it is possible to further facilitate the public and effectively eliminate the wearing of the mask, except in hospitals and hospital institutions. So it’s true that you do not have to, and more pleasant without the mask, but maybe it is still worthwhile to continue a little more with the practice we had to adopt in the past year.
In meetings that take place outside, it is not necessary to wear a mask at all for both those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated, but when entering closed places, it is worth taking into account the following facts: The sky has opened, Just yesterday we reported a group returning from abroad with an active disease. Although PCR is done when boarding the flight and also when landing in the country, and this allows us to locate some patients and send for isolation, but some returnees will be negative upon arrival , Will continue their lives without symptoms and without knowing they are infected but will expose others and may also infect them as well.
What does it matter, after all, in Israel there is herd immunity due to the high response to vaccines
True, but we do not test which of the patients and the vaccinated have developed antibodies and which have not. Furthermore, the vaccine is effective in 95% of the vaccinated, and in 5% of the vaccine is ineffective and therefore they are at risk of being infected without knowing it. It should be remembered that the immunity of the vaccine decreases over time. We are approaching half a year from the time we started giving the vaccine, and it is possible that today some of the people who have been vaccinated and responded with a good level of antibodies are already less protected.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Health does not recommend booster vaccination based on existing knowledge from studies, but it does not guarantee that each of us is individually protected. There is still the possibility that vaccinated people will be infected and become carriers of the virus without getting sick themselves, but will infect adults and children who have not been vaccinated or whose vaccine is ineffective.
So who has a mandatory recommendation to continue wearing a mask?
Vaccine-suppressed people who, even if vaccinated, are not sure that they have succeeded in developing antibodies, for example in people who have undergone transplants, have been found in studies from Israel that they are not protected even after the vaccine. And a final word – this year there was no flu at all and neither was RSV which is a virus similar to the flu, and in our estimation it is due to the contribution of the masks.
Therefore, I would recommend next fall and winter to both our staff and patients to wear a mask, and however in order to protect ourselves and others, common sense says there is an advantage to continuing to use masks at this point.
The author is the director of the unit for infectious diseases and infection prevention at Haemek Medical Center of the Clalit Group.