“Do I need a mask after vaccination?” Now here is the truth

Male lupus patient with a mask
Please continue to protect yourself as you did before if you have lupus or another systemic autoimmune disease and are vaccinated against COVID-19

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Dr. T. I have lupus. I got both of my Moderna COVID vaccines. Can I take off my mask like the CDC recommends?

ANSWER:

I am so glad you asked this question!

NO! (generally, see exceptions below)

The CDC’s recommendation that vaccinated people can be outside without a mask and indoors when around other vaccinated people apply to the general public.

However, we do not know how well the vaccines work in people with autoimmune diseases?

I am so happy you got vaccinated. Until many more of us get vaccinated, life can’t get back to “normal.” Although, it is not guaranteed that you responded to the vaccine, if the COVID vaccine goes in line with other lupus vaccine studies, there should at least be some protection. Exceptions would include those who are heavily immunosuppressed may not have a very good response (for example, someone on rituximab who gets vaccinated a month or so after their treatment are unlikely to have a robust response).

Please continue to protect yourself with social distancing. Protect yourself at all times similar to how the CDC recommended prior to the vaccines.

Ask you friends and family to strongly consider getting vaccinated to help protect you as well (the cocoon effect)

Exceptions?
If you have very mild lupus that has been in remission, you are young with no other health problems, and you take only hydroxychloroquine as your medication, they you could possibly do OK by not wearing a mask via the May 2021 guidelines for people who have been vaccinated.

Please ask your rheumatologist for their advice.

Author

Don Thomas, MD, author of “The Lupus Encyclopedia” and “The Lupus Secrets

7 thoughts on ““Do I need a mask after vaccination?” Now here is the truth

  • May 22, 2021 at 10:21 am
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    Thank you Dr T for your input. I truly trust you. I also am fully vaccinated but still wear my mask. The only time I’m without a mask is at home with my fully vaccinated family. Thank you Dr T.

    Reply
    • June 6, 2021 at 6:10 pm
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      You are welcome, Mari. Thanks for posting. I do the same as you!

      Reply
  • June 6, 2021 at 2:34 pm
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    I am participating in the Johns Hopkins research study on the Covid vaccine and chronic illnesses. Surprisingly, I have had a very good response to the vaccine with my antibody levels (SARS-CoV-2 Semi-Quant Total Ab >2500 U/ml) at 30 days post 2nd vaccine. It remains to be seen if my levels will stay that high.
    With these type results, what are your thoughts on continued mask wearing for me? I am almost 60 years old and my lupus is relatively well controlled with plaquenil and Benlysta. My weight is good and I am relatively active.

    Reply
    • June 6, 2021 at 6:15 pm
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      Ms. Williams: So glad to hear you have mounted a good response. The problem is that this infection is so new, and we have such little experience, we really don’t know what to tell our patients without having research results, so we tend to lean towards the conservative side. Myself, I still wear my mask and practice social distancing, and refuse to get on a plane though I’m vaccinated.
      btw, mind sharing what medicines you are on? Of course, don’t if you feel uncomfortable. However, it can be helpful for others if they know if you are only on hydroxychloroquine vs stronger immunosuppressants. I’ve already had a patient in the Johns Hopkins study come back with levels of zero. He is on mycophenolate plus hydroxychloroquine plus Benlysta.

      Reply
  • June 15, 2021 at 9:49 pm
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    Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post.

    Reply
  • June 15, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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    This is obviously one great post. Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together!

    Reply
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