University of Iowa: mask up even after getting the vaccine

In a campus-wide email on Monday, the University of Iowa is telling students “wearing protective equipment after vaccination is still just as important as ever.”


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Lillian Poulsen, News Reporter

As the vaccine rollout continues and more students and staff in priority groups receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the University of Iowa issued an email Monday emphasizing that even those who are vaccinated against the virus should continue to wear masks.

“If you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, you might feel like you can do away with the face mask and face shield that have become our constant companions over the past 10 months,” the email update stated. “However, wearing protective equipment after vaccination is still just as important as ever.”

In the email, the university listed four reasons why people need to wear masks after getting vaccinated:

  • There aren’t currently enough people vaccinated to relax precautions
  • Public health experts don’t know if vaccination stops asymptomatic spread
  • Current vaccines may not fully protect people against new variants of the virus
  • And people must continue to model good safety behaviors in the community. 

This echoes what Pat Winokur, vaccine lead researcher and executive dean of the Carver College of Medicine, told The Daily Iowan in an interview. The vaccines with current FDA emergency-use authorization were created to combat the original strain of COVID-19, and vaccines have shown to be less effective against at least one variant prominent in South Africa. A study of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine found that the effectives dropped from about 72 percent efficacy range to a low 60-percent range in South Africa. However, Winokur said the vaccine still does a good job at preventing serious illness from any strain of COVID-19.

Since August, the UI custodial team has continued heightened cleaning practices in campus buildings, which UI Associate Director of Custodial Services Andy Bruckner said in a video released in December has led to no COVID-19 spread linked to UI classrooms. 

According to a campus-wide email sent on Monday, the team has been disinfecting high touch surfaces, cleaning restrooms, restocking health station and restroom supplies, and providing customer service throughout each day.

In August, 21 custodial members switched from nights to days to implement the Building Attendant Program, a mitigation effort that facilitates the cleaning, disinfecting, and restocking of buildings across campus, Bruckner said. 

He said the attendants are available from 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. during the week.

In order to minimize the risk of COVID-19, Bruckner said it’s important for everyone to continue to wear masks, practice good hand hygiene, and clean high touch surfaces after use.

The university also reported six new cases of COVID-19 among students and one among employees since Feb. 19. There are two residence hall students in quarantine and two in self-isolation.

Since Aug. 18, there have been a total of 2,997 cases among students and 438 among employees.

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to reflect that custodial cleaning practices have been in place since August. 

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