Canada’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines has officially arrived in the country, offering hope that normalcy may be on the horizon. However, if you’ve wondered “will we have to wear masks after vaccinations?” the answer is yes, probably.

Last week, Health Canada officially gave Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine candidate the go-ahead for distribution and thousands of doses arrived as early as Monday.

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We must also remember that while the vaccine offers protection against disease, data does not yet exist on prevention of transmission [...]

Dr. Theresa Tam

However, as Canadians prepare to get vaccinated, a number of experts are warning that masks are unlikely to be going away any time soon.

This is because the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved were found to be around 95% effective in preventing illness with no serious side effects, but have not yet shown whether vaccinated people can still spread the virus to others.

Canada’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam, addressed the issue in a statement on Sunday.

Encouraging Canadians to continue to follow public health advice, she warned, “data does not yet exist on prevention of transmission.”

It’s a message backed up by other experts, who are warning that available vaccines don’t necessarily mean an end to public health measures.

Dr. Rob Kozak, a clinical microbiologist, told CTV News that health officials won’t be able to loosen restrictions until they see results from mass immunizations.

“It’s going to take time for everybody to get vaccinated, not just in Canada, but across the world,” he said. 

“The masks probably aren't going anywhere. I don't think that we're going to be back to normal by next April.”

Michal Tal, an immunologist at Stanford University, told the New York Times the same thing.

“A lot of people are thinking that once they get vaccinated, they’re not going to have to wear masks anymore,” she said.

“It’s really going to be critical for them to know if they have to keep wearing masks, because they could still be contagious.”

 
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