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New research shows vaccines slow asymptomatic spread of the virus

Guidance from the CDC says vaccinated people can gather with other vaccinated people without face masks.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As about 12% of North Carolinians get fully-vaccinated, there’s hopeful signs that the shots are slowing the spread of the virus.

New research suggests all three vaccines in circulation are at least 74% effective at slowing transmission of COVID-19 from asymptomatic people.

That’s good news for people who are just now getting ready to get back to normal.

“I feel fine,” said Nataly Romero, who just got her first dose of the vaccine Friday. “I’m a teacher, so I had to make the decision whether I wanted to stay in-person or virtual and I chose virtual.”

Under guidance from the CDC, she’ll be able to begin to return to some sense of normal in six weeks, two weeks after she gets her second shot.

“You have to have that period for your body to build immunity after receiving that second dose,” said Onslow County Health Director Kristen Richmond-Hoover. “So, you need to be two weeks out from that last dose.”

Which is why, health experts say, masks won’t be necessary in only some settings, but absolutely needed in others.

But still, a year into the pandemic, some are still spraying doubt over the effectiveness of face coverings. It’s doubt health experts are quickly shutting down.

During testimony in the Senate Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, an advisor to the White House, was challenged on his assertion that masks were protective, and not theater.

“If you have immunity, they are theater,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). “If you already have immunity, you are wearing a mask to give comfort to others, you are not wearing a mask because of any science.”

“I totally disagree with you,” Fauci said in response.

CDC guidance says vaccinated people can gather without masks in the homes of other vaccinated people safely. The same is true if another person is not vaccinated, but has low risk of contracting the virus.

But, if that person is unvaccinated and has a high risk for COVID, the guidance states everyone in the home should be wearing a mask.

The increase in vaccinations and updated guidance are seen as a sign life is slowly returning to normal. “To somewhat what it used to be,” said Romero. “Some type of normalcy.”

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