CDC’s New Mask and Social Distance Guidelines Could Encourage More People to Get Vaccinated

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Credit: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty

By Jess Taylor

DAVIS- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that those who are fully vaccinated can resume activities they did before the pandemic unless required otherwise by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws. Businesses and workplaces also have dominion over the enforcement of masks and social distancing.

Though this news should incentivize people to get vaccinated, research from the UCLA COVID-19 Health and Politics project indicates reaching herd immunity may continue to be complicated. 

Up until May 13, 2021, when the CDC released new regulations, scientists have been unsure if those fully vaccinated can still transmit the virus though they can not get sick. Skepticism has followed the efficiency of the vaccine because Americans believe they should not have to mask up if the vaccine is successful.

UCLA conducted randomized survey experiments to see if they could incentivize people to get the vaccine. The two factors they learned appeal most to people are earning money and not having to wear a mask.

The researchers of this project used three different dollar amounts to bribe those who are not vaccinated: $100, $50 and $25. The likeness of unvaccinated people getting the shot increased by 34 percent if given 100 dollars. Then, $50 shifted to 31 percent more likely, and $25 reached 28 percent more.

The project then asked their subjects if they would get the vaccine in the event that they could stop wearing masks. 53 percent of Republicans said they would, and 82 percent of Democrats said yes if it meant eliminating masks. Including all demographics of race, gender, and political affiliation, the average to receive the vaccine so masks are no longer mandated averaged 63 percent, while 49 percent said they would even with the mask orders.

Our World in Data reports that 36.3 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, with about 50 percent of adults receiving their first dose. With the data presented by UCLA, it seems more people are inclined to get vaccinated, but more of their research challenges the willingness for people to do it.

The researchers for the project gathered data about social events. 53 percent of unvaccinated people dine in at restaurants, while only 32 percent of fully vaccinated people do so. 52 percent of unvaccinated people spend time with 10 or more non-family members outside, where a low of 27 percent of inoculated individuals do. When doing the same indoors, 46 percent of those unvaccinated socially engage this way, and 40 percent of fully vaccinated people do as well. 

Alas, unvaccinated people are outnumbering those who are fully vaccinated in social engagements. While the pandemic is slowing down and normal life, so to say, is on the horizon, the virus is still infecting and killing people every day.

The CDC announced those fully vaccinated have the following privileges: they do not need to wears masks, socially distance, get tested before travel or self-quarantine after traveling, get tested before leaving the US unless destinations require it, and do not have to get tested if around people with COVID-19 unless they are showing symptoms.

On average, the likelihood of people choosing to get the vaccine, if masks and social distancing guidelines alleviated, would increase by 13 points. For Republicans, the increase would be 18 points.

Though these statistics show improvement in the number of Americans who would get the vaccine, there are still many people who do not trust the numbers. UCLA reports that 38 percent of those choosing to abstain from receiving the vaccine say they are worried about the side effects, and 34 percent still believe it is not safe. One-quarter of those unvaccinated do not trust the government’s motives for it, and 14 percent say the virus does not threaten them.

While scientists are still learning about the vaccine, such as its effectiveness towards other variants and its longevity, their effectiveness is why communities, towns, and cities are beginning to open up. The data from UCLA indicates more incentives are needed to convince Americans to receive the vaccine so herd immunity can be reached. Hopefully, the announcement from the CDC encourages those who are not vaccinated to get the shot where they will receive more liberty towards normalcy.

Jess Taylor is in her senior year at UC Davis from a small town called Wheatland. She is finishing her studies in English and Human Rights.

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3 thoughts on “CDC’s New Mask and Social Distance Guidelines Could Encourage More People to Get Vaccinated”

  1. Tia Will

    Encouraging people to get vaccinated is a fine goal. Unfortunately a one size fits all statement does not take into account the conditions on the ground locally. It implies that all local officials will act responsible in their own jurisdictions based on their numbers of cases, testing positivity and deaths. We have already seen that this is not the case in many areas of the country. I would have preferred the CDC error on the side of caution rather than the assumption that all would act responsibly. That is a beautiful thought not born out by the events of 2020.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Unfortunately a one size fits all statement does not take into account the conditions on the ground locally. It implies that all local officials will act responsible in their own jurisdictions based on their numbers of cases, testing positivity and deaths.

      This analysis completely misses the mark.

      What’s actually occurring is that the number of cases, positive tests, and deaths is viewed differently in regard to response, in different locales across the country – even within states. Those folks have a different view of what is “responsible”, compared to other places.

      And it still is that way.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Tia… I hope all who can get vaccinated, choose that.  Very many will not so choose… particularly “some” who do so on political/dogmatic principles.

      Masks are to protect others from us… we’re fully vaccinated, but although our risk is low, we still don’t know that we can/cannot ‘carry’ to others… so, we still follow the mask and physical separation protocols, for now, not out of concern for ourselves, but out of concern and respect for others…

      But there is a limit… if folk continue to assert that Covid isn’t real, that it does not pose a significant risk, refuse vaccination… then as far as I’m concerned, my mask is OFF (nuisance, and fogs my glasses)… the “H” with them… and I’d go even further… the ‘refuseniks’ should be LAST in line for medical care, and no heath insurance (which we pay into, based on risk), public or private, should cover their care if they fall ill, become hospitalized, due to their exercising their “liberties”…

      Yeah, just a cold, heartless person… and tired of the mask thingy… and other restrictions… I give them 3-6 months to “fish or cut bait”… no more… just me…

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