The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) released the following statement today regarding the new mask guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
"The CDC has announced that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask indoors and outdoors. Therefore, we, at the Department of Health, are aligning with the CDC recommendation,” said NDDOH State Health Officer, Dr. Nizar Wehbi.
Studies have shown that vaccines are highly effective against symptomatic disease and hospitalization in the general adult populations. In North Dakota, 99.9% of those vaccinated are protected from COVID. Less than 0.13% of those fully vaccinated have contracted COVID-19.
"Breakthrough cases will continue to be seen, but as we have learned from experience with historical vaccines such as polio and varicella (chickenpox), the spread is greatly diminished in communities as more people participate in vaccination efforts," said NDDoH Chief of Disease Control and Forensic Pathology Section, Kirby Kruger. "According to the CDC, vaccines for chickenpox are between 88%-98% effective. COVID-19 vaccines have very high level of effectiveness. This is encouraging news. North Dakotans are slowing and can stop the spread of COVID-19 by continued and expanded participation in vaccination efforts."
The decision not to recommend masks for those who have been vaccinated is based on the latest research, showing that the vaccines are working and are highly effective. The risk of being infected or spreading COVID-19 once fully vaccinated is very low, and therefore wearing a mask if you are fully vaccinated is no longer a recommendation.
Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two (2) weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two (2) weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
A recommendation remains that everyone wears masks when they are in a health care setting, when they are traveling on public transportation, including airplanes, and when they are in a business or employer that chooses to require masks. Also, vaccinated people who have weakened immune systems should consult with their physician to determine the best course of action for them.
"North Dakotans have come together throughout this pandemic to keep our communities safe, first through mitigation and now through vaccination,” said Wehbi. "More than 50% of adults in the state have already been vaccinated and this number continues to grow. We are grateful for all the hard work and sacrifices made to get us to this point."
Guidance for individuals and businesses is being updated on the NDDoH website to reflect these recommendations from the CDC.
The NDDOH is working with regional local public health and medical providers to expand access to vaccines. Vaccine information and locations can be found online at www.health.nd.gov/together.