TAMPA, Fla. — Some health experts say they were shocked by the new CDC guidelines.
“This was definitely an about face on all of our distancing and safety measures,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, Associate Professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health.
The new guidance allows fully vaccinated people to remove masks and social distancing requirements, allowing them to return to many pre-pandemic activities.
“I understand why there’s a push to do this. The hope is that if we do show and really highlight what everyone can do that’s been vaccinated, it will increase the interest in being vaccinated,” said Roberts.
However, she's worried about the timing of the new rules.
“My concern... I wish it had come after we could’ve vaccinated everyone. So I think it’s a little premature. I wish that we had waited until the two and up crowd could be vaccinated because I do worry about that bit,” said Roberts.
Although the new guidelines only apply to fully vaccinated people, experts say people who aren’t vaccinated are taking their masks off too.
“So when we take away the masks and take away the social distancing and all the things that have been protecting us all this time, my concern is that yes for sure we’ll see an increase in cases,” said Roberts.
That’s why doctors are now concerned about how this will affect kids because those under 12 still can’t get vaccinated.
They say in many cases, kids tend to have little to no symptoms if they’re infected and can spread the virus.
“For the kids, really truly the guidelines have not changed. But, we need to be aware that there’s definitely going to be people out there in our environment, who are not protected, they’re not vaccinated, and they’ve taken their masks off,” said Roberts.
Experts say they do expect some kind of increase in cases now that public safety measures have been rolled back.
“Hopefully we’ve got the cases low enough that we’re not going to see a massive amount of spread,” said Roberts.
Doctors want to remind people that even though the vaccines provide great protection, they’re not 100% effective against the virus. So if you feel more comfortable still wearing a mask, do so.
“The reality is in some people they’re just not going to develop the immune response necessary to protect them. So the mask will continue to protect them,” said Roberts.
“Masks can actually provide you protection that the vaccine can’t. So the vaccine is working really well against the coronavirus variants we have right now. However, they can mutate, and so a mask does not care what kind of strain is coming around, it always works," she added.