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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I still get COVID if I’m vaccinated?

Yes. Current vaccines provide limited protection against infection from current variants. 

Do Vaccines Prevent Transmission?

No. While vaccination may reduce the likelihood of transmission, a vaccinated person can become infected and infect others.

I already had COVID, can I get it again?

Yes. Reinfections are common. While prior infection provides some protection from reinfection, you can get re-infected, especially by a different variant. 

I am vaccinated, why do I still have to wear a mask?

Vaccination does not provide adequate protection against transmission for current variants. The protection offered by masking works together with vaccination to reduce the likelihood of transmission and may also reduce the severity of breakthrough infections.

Can anyone wear an N95?

Yes. N95, FFP3, KF94, FFP2, or KN95 masks (respirators) can be used by anyone 2 years old and older.

Do I need a booster?

The effect of vaccination decreases over time, especially against newer variants. The “boosters” – additional doses of the vaccine – restore short term protection and provide additional long term benefits.

Does vaccination prevent new variants?

No. New variants occur when there is a large amount of transmission, which enables mutations every time a new viral particle is formed. Since current vaccines don’t prevent transmission, they do not prevent new variants from forming.

Am I safe from COVID-19 if I social distance?

No. Social/physical distancing helps because the virus is more concentrated in the air around infected people. But as they breathe out aerosols containing the virus, the amount of virus in indoor air builds up. The aerosols float and linger in the air like smoke throughout the space for hours, spreading throughout indoor spaces.

What is the problem with mask quality?

Unfortunately, fraud is widespread and mask quality varies considerably so use a reliable source for masks.

Does the N95 always require fit testing to be effective?

No, While fit testing gives a higher level of protection, individuals wearing non-fit-tested high-quality masks still have strong protection against infection compared to surgical masks.

How long can I wear a mask or respirator for?

.Masks and respirators can be worn for many hours, and re-used until damaged, soiled, or damp. A disposable N95 is likely to be effective for approximately 40 hours.

 How long will it take for cases to come down?

It is not possible to generally estimate a timeline for cases to come down. However, society has the ability to reduce cases through collective action. 

Will new variants emerge?

As long as widespread transmission of COVID-19 continues, more variants will emerge. 

Will variants become more or less severe?

Variants do not become automatically less severe, especially because transmission occurs long before the disease becomes severe or people die. New variants which take over will be more transmissible, which makes them more severe for public health. And variants generally will become more severe if it improves the rate of transmission.

When should I test?

Testing is encouraged when a person either has symptoms, reasons to suspect exposure, or is going to an event where exposing others is possible. More generally, surveillance or mass testing can be used to reduce transmission in the community by identifying cases.

Is COVID-19 mild?

No. COVID-19 is a highly transmissible, potentially disabling or fatal virus.  Its effects on individuals as well as on society are much more severe than the flu. 

Will COVID-19 become endemic?

The term “endemic” is widely misunderstood and misused. It is used to suggest it can’t be eliminated (so stop trying) and that at some time in the future (but presumably soon) it will become very mild, like the common cold. Endemicity actually means that it is regularly found in a geographical area. It does not mean that it has become mild or that it can’t be eliminated. Moreover, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t stopped mutating or disrupting society. COVID-19 will become endemic if we fail to control it, and we should avoid this outcome.

What is elimination?

Elimination is the reduction to zero of the incidence of a specific disease or infection in an area over a period of time. Elimination does not mean eradication, which refers to global elimination. Elimination requires ongoing vigilance and some measures to prevent renewed transmission. Many diseases have been eliminated in large parts of the world including yellow fever, malaria, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, and smallpox.

What is eradication?

Eradication is the permanent worldwide reduction to zero of infection caused by a specific disease as the result of deliberate efforts so that measures are no longer needed. For example, smallpox has been eradicated. Many diseases caused by zoonotic outbreaks have also been eradicated. 

How much can I trust that statistics like cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are accurate?

Accuracy of public health statistics varies by country or region, depending on health system capabilities, capacity, and transparency. 

Last reviewed on January 24, 2023

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