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Smiles are in; masks are on the way out.

In the meantime, mask responsibly

We’ve all been waiting for this news: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated can feel comfortable taking off their masks in many places.

Here’s our take: If you’re fully vaccinated, thank you! You are protecting yourself and our community so we can end the pandemic.

If you haven’t been vaccinated, wear a mask in all indoor public spaces. 

The CDC announcement marks a major moment in the effort to make the COVID-19 pandemic a thing of the past. Seeing the smiles of family and friends is the most visible sign that life is finally returning to “normal.”

People who are fully vaccinated, meaning 2 weeks have passed since they received their last required dose of vaccine, are 95% less likely to have any serious illness if they get infected. 

CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely resume activities indoors and outdoors without masks or distancing, except on public transportation and hospitals or when federal, state, local and private regulations require it. 

Washington State Department of Health adopted this guidance May 14, and Labor & Industries provided a pathway for businesses to allow fully vaccinated employees to go without masks when they verify vaccination status through L&I. 

Seeing more faces and fewer masks is one of the best incentives to get vaccinated! 

It’s important to continue wearing masks in certain situations because in Pierce County, case counts are declining but are higher than they should be. And our vaccination rate, now at 52% for those of 16 and up with their first dose, needs to get to 70%. 

Vaxing or masking_Facebook

Masking questions

Right now, we are in a transitional period when it comes to masks. To mask, or not to mask, are frequent questions we get at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. We recommend people always consider the situation when making that decision. 

You’re smart. You know what to do. If you’re fully vaccinated, you have lots of options. If you’re not, you still have lots of options—to get vaccinated! 

We’re all in this together. Families need all of us to get vaccinated to protect loved ones; businesses need all of us to get vaccinated to protect customers and employees. It’s why community leaders are stepping up efforts to get more people vaccinated.

COVID19_Vax and Masks Business Flyer-04

 

Businesses rely on customers to do the right thing:
If you are sitting with a group of fully vaccinated people, feel free to take off those masks. 

If you are entering a business that requires customers to wear a mask, you should comply. 

Many businesses are putting up signs that ask customers to, “Please wear a mask.” Other businesses are encouraging those who are not vaccinated to continue to wear a mask. This is good guidance. 

Customers should respect those requests and keep in mind, current rules coming from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, require employers to protect their employees against exposure to COVID-19. 

Some people are waiting until a larger percentage of the population has been vaccinated before they feel comfortable without a mask. Others wear masks out of concern for immune compromised people. Those are good reasons, too. 

When it comes to masks, everyone has their own level of comfort. Just as it took us a while to get comfortable wearing a mask, it may take some people time to get comfortable not wearing one. 

Give people grace and space around their decision. 
But some people are still “waiting and seeing” until they get vaccinated. Wait no more! 

We want to see your smile, and we need more people to get vaccinated, especially in areas lagging behind: Parkland, Spanaway, South Tacoma, North Lakewood and rural areas. 

We also see high rates of COVID-19 in Bonney Lake, Parkland and Frederickson. The Hispanic community is experiencing a disproportionately high number of cases. It’s critical you stop delaying. You can protect yourself, your neighbors, your customers, your employees, and your friends by getting vaccinated today.

Mask Responsibly

In some situations, wearing is still caring. Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) order requires residents wear face masks in schools, public transportation, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and healthcare settings. 

CDC guidelines also state people should wear masks in crowded indoor locations such as airplanes, buses, prisons, and nursing homes. 

And if you haven’t been vaccinated, keep wearing masks. Many people with certain health conditions don’t have the option to get vaccinated. They rely on us as a community to protect them. 

While Pierce County vaccination rates are climbing, large segments of our population are not yet fully vaccinated.

Continued use of face masks for everyone 2 years of age and older within indoor public spaces is reasonable to reduce the risk for COVID-19 transmission until more people are protected through vaccination and  disease rates go down.

If you don’t have a health condition that prevents you from getting vaccinated and you’re 12 or older we can help you find a COVID-19 vaccination opportunity that’s right for you. Our call center is at your service.

Find appointments at www.tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Have trouble with computers? We can help you register for an appointment. Trouble finding a second dose? We can help. Someone needs an interpreter? We can help. Is it difficult for you to leave home? Or need transportation to a vaccine event? We can make those arrangements, too. Or, do you want to host a vaccination clinic for your business or community group? We can help with that, too! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week. 

We also offer a vaccine help list. Sign up online. Taking off our masks and getting close to people is going to be a big change for all of us, but the quicker we can all get vaccinated, the quicker we can get back to mask-free living.

COVID-19 vaccine protects you, your loved ones, and your community. Knowing we are safe from catching or spreading COVID-19 should give us all a reason to smile. COVID-19 vaccines work!

Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is simple and free. You don’t need insurance or ID. Go to www.tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture or call (253) 649-1412 to learn more.