The new mask mandate not only caused confusion, but so did the misinterpretation according to health officials.
In a one-on-one interview with 11Alive News, Dr. Rochelle Walensky explains the milestone of the face mask policies being updated.
The CDC recommended last week that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask in most settings.
“I think we should celebrate the moment right. In the last two weeks, our cases have come down by a third. We have vaccine that is available to anyone who wants it," Dr. Walensky said.
Dr. Walensky says her visit to Dalton shows the progress within the last 14 months of the pandemic – how vaccines have been able to combat COVID-19. She says the goal now is to increase confidence towards vaccines with time.
“Over the last several weeks, we’ve had more science emerge. As more science emerges, I deliver that to the American people. Here’s what the science said: The vaccine is working just as well in the communities as it did in the clinical trials," she said. "The vaccine is working against the variants that we have circulating in the United States. And in general, something that wasn’t studied during the trials, if you get vaccinated, you can’t transfer it to somebody else. You can’t give the disease to somebody else. So in context, we said, you as an individual are safe if you are vaccinated and take off your mask."
She said the goal is to make sure health professionals help to increase the confidence communities have with the vaccine.
“We know that this vaccine is safe. We know that it’s effective," she said. "The science has indicated that it’s working just as well as it did in clinical trials. What we really want to do is get people vaccinated, so that we can put this pandemic behind us."
With three vaccines available to the public right now – Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna - a lingering question is whether people may need a booster shot at some point.
“One of the things that we want to make sure is very clear is, if you’ve had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, you are protected right now and you do not need a booster shot right now. But we want to be ready. If for some reason we need a booster shot, we don’t want to be back where we are right now,” she said.