New mask guidance for vaccinated individuals does not grant permission for widespread removal of masks, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.
"If they're vaccinated, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated, they are not safe. They should still be wearing a mask or better yet, get vaccinated,” she told "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
Since the new mask guidance was announced on Thursday, many states, local governments and businesses have updated their mask ordinances based on the CDC’s recommendation that vaccinated individuals can be maskless indoors, outdoors or in large crowds.
Walensky and other U.S. health officials have stressed that their guidance is up to individuals to follow and if vaccinated people wish to continue wearing their masks they can.
"We wanted to deliver the science of the individual level, but we also understand that these decisions have to be made at the community's level," Walensky said.
The CDC is also facing criticism from some infectious disease specialists who are concerned that there is no way of knowing who is vaccinated -- leaving vulnerable populations, including children who don't have the option of getting vaccinated, at risk if everyone decides to stop wearing masks.
"If you're unvaccinated, we are saying wear a mask." Walensky told Raddatz. "Practice all of those mitigation strategies for the unvaccinated."
"We are asking people to take their health into their own hands to get vaccinated, and if they don't, then they continue to be at risk," she continued.
This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.
New mask guidance does not grant permission for widespread mask removal: Walensky originally appeared on abcnews.go.com