COVID-19 vaccination cards could act as proof to remove masks

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INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday morning Marion County leaders will hold an update that could provide new guidance on mask requirements as other Indiana counties have shed theirs. 

Tuesday Chicago dropped their mask mandate guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals following the lead of New York City Monday. 

In Indiana, as of Tuesday, 2,326,908 Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated… or roughly 34 percent of the state’s population. Not counting the segment of the population which is partially vaccinated, Indiana still falls short of herd immunity, which is near 80 percent according to health experts.

Marion County and the city of Indianapolis, experts believe, may be holding off dropping masks until those numbers are slightly more favorable. 

“If you’re vaccinated, you’re safe,” Chief Physician Executive at Community Health Network Dr. Ram Yeleti said. “I think what people need to realize is that if you are vaccinated, basically you are safe. So wherever you go, whether you are young or old, you can feel comfortable living kind of “quote unquote” normal life. It’s okay to do what you want to do if you have been vaccinated.”

For Dr. Yeleti, the vaccines represent safety and freedom. 

“The one thing I would tell any Hoosier is that if you’re vaccinated this is kinda your ticket to freedom. You can get back to what you were doing before with very little risk from the CDC and I would support that completely,” Dr. Yeleti said. “For those who are unvaccinated, or just not vaccinated yet. Think about it. This could be your ticket to freedom as well. If you get vaccinated you can help yourself and others get back to feeling like you always have and not worry about the virus anymore.”

The CDC’s move to remove mask wearing mandates for the fully vaccinated has placed doctors and politicians alike in uncharted territory. Keep the masks for all? Drop them for some?

“While the CDC means well, I think the right direction… it has been very challenging and I think the biggest reason is that I think when they offer that – what we don’t have is a way to hold people accountable knowing who is vaccinated and not vaccinated,” Dr. Yeleti said. “Having one without the other has become very challenging.”

Yet some argue, one way to have that accountability already exists in the form of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards given to vaccinated people. But can businesses ask people for proof before allowing them to remove their masks?

“It’s perfectly legal for a business to ask you for your vaccination card – it’s equally legal for patrons to refuse to answer,” Professor of Law at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University Jody Madeira said. “Private businesses have always been free to set their own regulations with respect to, you know, who they serve within limits.”

Dr. Yeleti thinks you might want to get used to showing your vaccine card off. 

“I actually do think it’s appropriate to require carding. Just like if you’re gonna go to the bar they card you to see if you’re 21 or over, I think its a very similar process of saying show me your card to get into this restaurant,” Dr. Yeleti said. “I do firmly believe that that’s the way we should go.”

When considering the benefits to public health and the freedom available by getting the vaccine, Dr. Yeleti thinks the pain from the needle is a fair trade off. 

“If you’re not vaccinated, think about the freedom you can get by being vaccinated and being able to do what you want since the mandates are going away soon,” Dr. Yeleti said. “Getting back to whatever you want to call ‘normal’. Going to ballgames and restaurants and hanging out with family… that’s all within reach.”

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