The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear a mask indoors nor practice social distancing.
The news caught many off guard and has created divides within families and friends who’ve, up until this point, trusted CDC guidance on mitigations against COVID-19.
It’s also producing anxiety for those who can’t get a vaccine.
That’s the case for Chicagoan Natasha Carter, who is allergic to the ingredients in all three available vaccines in the U.S.
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“It’s still worrisome to us. It hasn’t gone away,” said Carter. “It definitely limits my ability to go out there.”
Even for the fully vaccinated, removing the mask after more than a year of being told to wear them, can seem daunting during an existing pandemic.
Dr. Sheel Raja, a clinical psychologist at University of Illinois at Chicago, reminded Chicagoans that no one is mandating that people remove their masks.
“I would say, psychologically, it’s okay to take some time and not dive into the deep end of the pool,” said Raja. “I think we need to give each other some grace and flexibility.”
Others say, to avoid conflict, they’ll continue to wear a mask where and when they feel it's necessary.
Even though Victor Anderson is about to get his second dose of the vaccine, he said he wants others around him to be comfortable during this transition.
“I would probably put my mask on just to calm things down,” said Anderson. “I don’t want to end up on YouTube. I don’t want to upset people.”