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Question on when outdoors, everyone around who is unvaccinated (outdoors) must wear a mask.

This content was current as of the date it was released. In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.

Ask the Doctor Question:

My mother-in-law with CLL says the CLL Society is recommending that when outdoors, everyone around her who is unvaccinated (outdoors) must wear a mask. I cannot find this on your site, I only see that it says she (the person with CLL) must wear a mask and social distance. In fact, the informational graphic on your page shows outdoor activity in the safe zone in the presence of vaccinated or unvaccinated people. How could it be possible for the CLL patient to monitor everyone around her requiring them to wear masks and checking their vaccine status? This is a very important clarification needed if you are able to help!

Answer: Yes, that is correct, especially now that the Delta variant is spreading rapidly and is much more contagious than previous variants. Additionally, we now know that the vaccines are providing little to no protection in those with CLL, and there are many known cases now of vaccinated individuals spreading the virus to both non-vaccinated and vaccinated persons. You are correct in that it is impossible to monitor vaccine status for everyone around you. That is why we recommend you act as an unvaccinated person yourself, if you have CLL.

I believe the graphic you are referring to is the one located here:

Unfortunately, this was published back in April and is why we put disclaimers in red at the top of all content. It was current when it came out, but much has changed since that time.

We have recently just last week put out more guidance on this. I will include several links to some things below in hopes it will provide a little more clarification. The bottom line is that we recommend all CLL patients behave as they did last summer with the same strict level of precautions. This is mainly because if someone with CLL becomes infected, the mortality rate raises from a 1% chance of death in the general population to 30-40% chance of death in those who are immunocompromised. Here are several recent links that will help. The first one will provide some good perspective: