I'm High-Risk, Should I Still Wear A Mask? Dr. Mallika Marshall Answers Your COVID Questions

Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus vaccine-related medical questions.

Video Transcript

DAVID WADE: Of course, the big news today was that the state will fully reopen on May 29. But many of you continue to reach out to us with your coronavirus questions. And here to answer your questions, Dr. Mallika Marshall. My accent jumping in there for a half a second. Doctor, thank you for joining us.


DAVID WADE: Let's begin with Robin, who writes, I'm 66, and I'm high risk for COVID because of an autoimmune disease. The CDC released new information about going maskless indoors but does not provide any specifics for vaccinated people who are high-risk. So what do you think about this, Doctor?

MALLIKA MARSHALL: Well, I mean, if you're immunocompromised, then you may not have mounted as robust an immune response to the vaccines as people who aren't immunocompromised. So I would continue to exercise caution when you're in public or in crowded settings by wearing your mask and socially distancing.

But talk to your doctor about what your relative risk is. Because maybe you're not as high-risk as you think you are. So have that conversation before you decide whether to shed your mask.

DAVID WADE: All right, Doctor. Suzanne asks an interesting question. She says, if the COVID vaccine becomes an annual event, similar to the flu shot, would you have to get the same vaccine, Moderna, Pfizer, or J&J every year? Or next year, could you, say, get Moderna even though you got Pfizer this year?

MALLIKA MARSHALL: Yeah, so you probably will get whatever shot is available at that time. They're currently looking at mixing and matching vaccines to make sure it's safe. Preliminary data suggests that it is. So if an annual vaccine is needed, it may be that you get Pfizer one year, and you get J&J the next year, and you alternate depending on what's available at that time.

DAVID WADE: All right, Roberta says, if someone is only in contact with people who are fully vaccinated, why bother getting vaccinated?

MALLIKA MARSHALL: I think this is a question that we're worried a lot of people are asking themselves, right? If everybody around me is vaccinated, why should I go ahead and do it? Well, first of all, right now only about a third of the US population is fully vaccinated.

So if you are unvaccinated, you undoubtedly will come into contact with people who are unvaccinated, including a lot of kids. Because a lot of kids aren't yet eligible to get vaccinated. So someone who's unvaccinated is really putting themselves at risk by not getting the vaccine. In the meantime, they really do need to wear their masks and social distance to protect themselves.

DAVID WADE: All right, Dr. Charles from Malden writes, I received my first Moderna shot out of state on January 16, but not my second shot. A health agency said I should start all over again with the first shot. What do you think about that?

MALLIKA MARSHALL: OK, so you got your first shot in January. It's now May, so that's been at least four months, which is a long time. You know, if your second dose is delayed, you really should try to get your second dose within six weeks of getting your first dose because we don't have a lot of data on how effective the vaccines are if you wait longer than six weeks.

But the CDC does say if your second dose is delayed more than six weeks, then you don't need to restart the series. Just make sure you get that second dose as soon as possible. But obviously, you want to follow the advice of your personal physician.

DAVID WADE: All right, Dr. Mallika, thank you so much as always. Always great to see you. And Dr. Mallika offers her best advice.


DAVID WADE: But as always, consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your health. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, three ways to reach her. You can email her, DrMallika@cbs.com. On Twitter, her handle is @mallikamarshall. Or you can Facebook Message her, Dr. Mallika Marshall. Lisa.