FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Many fully vaccinated individuals in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana continue to wear masks due to physical, emotional and mental health concerns.
WANE 15 reached out to viewers on Facebook to ask why they are still masking up, even after being deemed fully vaccinated. Many cited health concerns. Either they or a loved one is immunocompromised, or they are trying to protect loved ones who are not fully vaccinated yet.
“My son is not old enough to be vaccinated,” said one parent. “While he is less likely to suffer severe symptoms, we’d rather reduce his risks. Continuing to wear masks helps protect him while also setting a good example for him to continue wearing masks.”
“Have been vaccinated and will still wear the mask until this is gone!” said one viewer. “I just don’t feel like it’s safe yet!”
Rebeca Riley, the director of clinical based services at the Bowen Center’s Fort Wayne location, says there is still a high degree of anxiety and fear from the pandemic. The pandemic’s arrival last year was sudden, which resulted in a rapid change of people’s daily lives. Riley acknowledges that sudden change will not be the case as people return to life without masks.
“We don’t know people’s medical history, we don’t know their background, their personal anxieties or even if they’ve lost a loved one from the pandemic, or if they’ve experienced COVID themselves.” Riley said. “The masks might just make them more comfortable and confident.”
Some people will need more time to adjust to life without a mask than others. No matter their reasoning, others should respect their decision.
“Right now we have the opportunity to take smaller steps and prepare ourselves and work on our coping skills slowly as we are moving into more crowded areas or into areas that are more heavily populated without masks,” Riley said.
Riley advises those who are cautious or hesitant to resume activities without a mask to go at their own pace. They could try activities like attending a small gathering with others who are fully vaccinated. Or depending on the location, they could visit a store that has eased mask requirements during non-peak hours. She also recommends seeking mental health resources for those who are experiencing high levels of anxiety or fear to the point where it is disrupting their daily routines.