Spoiler: Yeah, you do.
The other day, I spoke to my parents about what they’ve been up to. They told me that, for the first time in months, they were able to enjoy the company of their friends in close quarters without wearing face masks. I was just so happy that they were able to do that thanks to them getting vaccinated. However, I’m also cognizant of the fact that they were only able to do that because both them and their friends are all vaccinated. We haven’t reached free-reign status just yet.
I’m sure once you’ve gotten your shots, you’ll be tempted to throw your mask into the nearest gloomy oubliette, never to be seen again, but you might want to hold off on that. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, the people around you might not be, which means they’re still at risk of COVID-19 infection, even from you. Remember, a vaccine isn’t a cure; it’s to help your body generate an immune response to particular diseases. You can still catch the coronavirus, but the symptoms will be lessened, if you even experience any symptoms at all. Even if you’re asymptomatic, though, you’re still shedding viral particles from your mouth and nose, which could be hazardous to those who haven’t been vaccinated yet. This is why you should continue wearing a mask in public places like grocery stores and restaurants.
However, if you’re in a situation like my parents and you want to have a get-together with people that you know for a fact have been vaccinated, then it’s okay to remove your mask and dial back the social distancing. Again, you could be asymptomatic, but as long as everyone’s vaccinated, nobody should be at any particularly high risk. One caveat, though: this only applies if you’re gathering in a private space like your home. If you’re meeting at a public space like a restaurant, the masks should stay on.