Will public health measures (face masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings) still be necessary after people start getting the vaccine?

Effective immediately, individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (i.e., those who are two weeks past their final dose of an authorized vaccine) no longer need to wear a mask outdoors on campus while alone or in small outdoor groups and gatherings. Masks are still required in crowded outdoor settings and venues (e.g. commencement ceremonies), as well as inside all UB buildings, classrooms, labs and facilities and on campus transportation.

Public health measures will still be necessary after people start getting the vaccine, for several reasons:

  • It is not yet known if the vaccines can prevent asymptomatic infection and subsequent transmission of the virus.
  • The vaccine is not 100% effective.
  • Public health measures will be important as long as virus is circulating in the community. There is currently widespread community transmission.
  • Vaccines are most effective in reducing virus when combined with public health measures until herd immunity is achieved.
  • No one knows you have been vaccinated when you appear in public, and the sight of someone failing to wear a mask may cause anxiety for other individuals. Until there is widespread immunity to infection, masks and social distancing will be necessary. Optimal hand hygiene is always a good idea.

Updated April 28, 2021

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