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Florida virologist talks who should still wear a mask and if we'll need booster shots

With so much information coming out about COVID-19 and the vaccines, we thought we'd take your questions straight to an expert for answers.

On 10 Tampa Bay, we’re committed to keeping you up to date with all the latest COVID-19 news.

That’s why every week we are taking your questions to a local medical expert to talk about what’s going on. From the latest on where Tampa Bay stands with vaccines, to monitoring the COVID-19 variants, we’ll continue tracking information.

Dr. Michael Teng, Ph.D., is a virologist at USF Health.

Here are some of the questions we asked this week:

Q: If you’ve had your second dose of the vaccine, how quickly can you remove your mask? 

A: “I would wait until that 14 days. Obviously, 14 days is kind of just a standard number. Even after 14 days, you're considered fully vaccinated but your immune system's still building. If you feel like you want to take the chance, you do have some immunity, there is some data on the vaccine efficacy after the first dose.

For me, especially now that there's this kind of CDC guidance that masks are not required indoors for those who are fully vaccinated, to me, that also says nobody's asking for proof that you're vaccinated. So, you may come into contact with people who are unmasked and unvaccinated."

RELATED: When should fully vaccinated people still mask up?

Q: What’s the latest data that we know in terms of how long efficacy lasts with these vaccines? 

A: “The levels of antibodies are still pretty high in people eight months after vaccination, so it looks to me that it's going to last at least a year. It's not uncommon for us to have boosters. So, for example, the Hepatitis B virus, you get three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine and then you're done. 

So, we might need just a single booster dose. We might need seasonal. It depends on how our immune systems react.”

RELATED: Dr. Fauci: Booster COVID vaccines may depend on variants

Q: Summer break is around the corner, so what do parents need to keep in mind for kids who have not been vaccinated?

A: "So, the CDC guidance for masks off in indoor settings is really for vaccinated people. Kids have not been able to be vaccinated yet, but you know, a lot of kids do outdoor camps, sports camps and things like that. 

Outdoors, again is fairly safe, even in situations where you may be exhaling a lot. If you’re going to have indoor camps and be indoors all morning long, all day long, children should still be wearing masks. It's all about space, it's about airflow when you're outside. Even on our hottest days in Tampa, we still have a breeze, so that's going to help a lot."

RELATED: I'm fully vaccinated, my kids are not. What should I do about masks?

You can send your questions to 727-577-8522 and we might answer them on 10 Tampa Bay Brightside.

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