Local doctor fears CDC guidance is distrustful, some disagree

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:01 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The CDC has been issuing safety guidance since the beginning of the pandemic and masking has become a controversial recommendation.

The latest CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated individuals can take their masks off while outdoors in small crowds only.

“The CDC guidelines for mask use are definitely very important to follow,” said Melinda Joyce, Vice President of Corporate Support Services with Med Center Health.

However, one local doctor says otherwise.

“I appreciate that the CDC wants to give people guidance, but I wish they would give us data. Instead, I think people can make their own decisions based on their risk factors and their vaccination status,” said Dr. Kelly Kries, a pediatrician at Bowling Green Internal Medicine & Pediatric Associates.

Kries believes those who are vaccinated shouldn’t be forced to mask up.

“If you’re telling someone, they get a vaccine, and nothing in their life changes, then why get a vaccine that has its risk, because there are risks with everything,” she said.

Meanwhile, Joyce agrees with the CDC guidance and says masks likely won’t be going anywhere until we reach herd immunity which means 75 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

“If you’re in a crowd outside and you don’t know the people that are around you, then you’re not going to know whether or not those people have been vaccinated,” said Joyce.

Kries says she feels comfortable unmasking based on the data she has observed.

“The chance of asymptomatic spread is 0.7%. Now add to that the fact that you’re vaccinated, then you bring your risk of transmitting this virus down substantially,” she said. “I feel very comfortable in my clinic, if patients are vaccinated, or if had COVID, we take off our mask, and we share smiles.”

As some aspects of the virus remain unclear, Joyce says erring on the side of caution is critical.

“As we’re still trying to work through what we’re seeing from the variants,” explained Joyce.

On the other side, Kries fears the CDC guidance might deter people from the vaccine who are already hesitant.

“I think it makes it distrustful of the CDC, especially when it’s come out that some of the guidance has been given just to manipulate persons to do XYZ and it feels very coerced,” said Kries.

However, Joyce says the messaging is specific for a reason, aiming to get more people vaccinated.

“If someone sees that, well, you know, the CDC is saying, ‘well, I don’t need to wear a mask outside, so that means I don’t need to get a vaccine,’ that’s not the case,” expressed Joyce.

While the women who have worked at the forefront of the pandemic have varying opinions, both agree the vaccine is decreasing hospitalization.

“Since the vaccination, we’re hopeful to see that the cases and the cases will divert from the deaths and hospitalizations,” said Kries.

So far, nearly 42 percent of people in the united states have at least one dose of the vaccine. Herd immunity means at least 75 percent of the population is vaccinated.

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