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SvP's "Ask Us Anything" Q&A Column! (May Edition!)

Answers contributed by Edward Chen, LisaMichelle Pecaro, and Yidan Gao

Edited by Edward Chen


To submit questions, anonymous or named, for a future Q&A column, send them here!

Question from anonymous:

"I decided not to get a vaccine because of a bad reaction I had to a vaccination in the past. Now I feel stigmatized by my friends! How do I respond when they say I don't have a good reason to not get vaccinated?"

Answer from Edward Chen:

"If by a bad reaction you mean an allergic reaction, it would be remiss to not mention the CDC’s recommendations. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine before, you should talk to your doctor about whether you should get a COVID-19 vaccine (and possibly, what type you should get). If you know you are allergic to a specific vaccine ingredient, you can also check the list of ingredients for each vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and severe allergic reactions are rare.

If you’ve decided to not get vaccinated even though you are able to, you could try talking to your friends and ask why they got vaccinated. Did they initially share your concerns? Are those concerns similar to yours? Are they happy they got vaccinated? If you feel differently at any point, this conversation would be a good way to explain your concerns because of your previous bad reaction."


Question from anonymous:

"Is there any way for states and stores to make sure that unmasked people indoors are in fact vaccinated?"

Answer from LisaMichelle Pecaro:

"Thanks for this incredible question! My answer is a bit long, because there is a lot to consider.

The new CDC statement on vaccinated individuals going unmasked caused so much confusion that Dr. Anthony Fauci attempted to clarify it yesterday. He mentioned that the statement is being misconstrued as a removal of indoor mask mandates. “It’s not. It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors,” he said.

Technically, it is possible to create a national vaccine passport system to monitor who can remove their mask indoors. However, this would be very difficult to implement and likely won’t happen, in my personal opinion. The Biden administration is looking into a digital program, although legal, privacy, and discrimination concerns make it unlikely to be created anytime soon. In the absence of such a system, going unmasked would be an honor-system, which is certainly worrying. Thankfully, states and cities with concerning COVID spread or variants can choose to keep their indoor mask mandates. (AARP’s updated list of state laws can be accessed here.) In addition, private businesses can also choose to require masks, even if their state does not.

Of course, if you are vaccinated, you can still continue wearing your mask as long as you feel comfortable doing so. If you are not vaccinated, be sure to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others. Remember, if you wear a good-fitting cloth mask over a surgical mask, you will block over 80% of infectious particles coming from the cough of an unmasked individual, according to a recent CDC study.

Bottom line: Be sure to follow guidelines of any indoor or outdoor locations that you are attending, and be sure to wear a well-fitting mask if you un-vaccinated, so that you can greatly reduce your risk even if some individuals abuse a no-mask honor system. If you are medically able, strongly consider getting vaccinated to reduce your risk even more!"


Question from anonymous:

"If I invite someone to a Zoom call, how long do I have to wait for another person before I end the meeting without them?"

Answer from Yidan Gao:

"This is definitely a valid question during the Zoom era, as it is frustrating to wait on a blank Zoom screen. During the first 5 minutes, I would recommend getting ahold of the person in any way possible (text/email) and see if they respond. If he/she doesn't respond, I would personally suggest waiting for 10 to 15 minutes. Of course, you can leave the Zoom meeting open and manage some other business during the wait. There is no obligation for how long the wait time should be. To prevent such an issue from happening, I will suggest texting/emailing the person beforehand as a reminder."


The preceding questions may have been edited from their original form for clarity.

The answers provided reflect the opinions of those writing the column only, and do not reflect the endorsements of Students vs Pandemics as an organization.

Results from ongoing research and the current understanding of COVID-19 are constantly evolving. This post contains information that was last researched on May 21, 2021.


Edward Chen is a master's student studying immunology. He's also the national president of Students vs. Pandemics. @EdwrdChen

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