Mask on: Vaccinated people can spread COVID-19

compilation of people wearing face masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission. If your county is orange or red on this map, wear a mask.

What's changed:

The delta variant is causing a large resurgence in COVID-19 cases – it is easier to pass from person to person. Wearing masks indoors again can help prevent spread of this dangerous virus. 

What's stayed the same: 

Fully vaccinated people are still protected against severe disease, hospitalization and death from delta. Face masks continue to be a highly effective tool to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Mask off, mask on. Why the back and forth?

The CDC advised in May that fully vaccinated people can usually skip masks, because vaccines reduce risk of virus transmission, and community case rates were low. But now we know that delta variant cases are rising rapidly, and vaccinated persons are contributing to spread in some situations.

Delta's reported 1,000% increased viral load is one of the reasons why it's so infectious and transmissible. A higher viral load means there are more virus particles concentrated in a single infected individual. If the infected person coughs or sneezes, it's easier for those viral particles to find a new victim. A mask helps block those virus particles. And countless studies have shown that masks work.

We urge you to wear masks indoors, whether vaccinated or not.

Use every tool you've got

Public health experts use a multilayered strategy to fight COVID-19. 

  • Get vaccinated as soon as you can if you're eligible (12 years and up)
  • Wear a well-fitting mask over your mouth and nose
  • Choose outdoor gatherings instead of indoor ones
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of illness
  • Practice physical distancing – the more the better
  • Avoid crowds
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces

The virus doesn't care whether you're sick of the pandemic. It will infect as many people as it can, regardless of personal views or pandemic fatigue. It's all of us against the virus, and we need to use every tool we've got.