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Do you need to wear masks after Covid vaccine? New NIH-backed study hopes to answer that

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Nurses draw vaccine doses from a vial as Maryland residents receive their second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the Cameron Grove Community Center on March 25, 2021 in Bowie, Maryland.
Win McNamee | Getty Images

A new study backed by the National Institutes of Health aims to help doctors and public officials figure out what people can and cannot do after they get vaccinated against the coronavirus, including whether they will still need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease within NIH, will test the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine’s ability to prevent infection of the coronavirus, limit the amount of virus in the nose and reduce transmission from inoculated people to close contacts.

“We hope that within the next five or so months we’ll be able to answer the very important question about whether vaccinated people get infected asymptomatically and if they do, do they transmit the infection to others,” White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press briefing Friday.

The randomized, controlled study will follow 12,000 college students aged 18 to 26 years old at more than 20 U.S. universities over five months. Preliminary study sites opened Thursday.

Study participants will be randomly split into two groups. Six thousand students will be vaccinated right away with Moderna’s two-shot vaccine spread 28 days apart while. Six thousand will be vaccinated four months later as an initial control group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first guidance for people who have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 on March 8. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can safely visit with other fully vaccinated people and some unvaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing.

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