Debates spark over mask-wearing policies, booster shot likely for those who received Pfizer vaccine

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - The debate over the safety of wearing a mask has reached local school districts and congressional hearings. Additionally, health officials said anyone who received the Pfizer vaccine may soon need a booster shot.

The race to get the COVID-19 vaccine is still going strong across South Florida.

“We actually feel a lot better, a lot safer,” one man said.

A steady flow of people could be seen getting vaccinated at the Hard Rock Stadium on Friday.

Miami-Dade College’s North Campus, Hard Rock Stadium and all DOH-Broward COVID-19 vaccination sites do not require appointments for Florida residents who want to get vaccinated.

Pfizer’s CEO announced that people will likely need a second shot within 12 months of being fully vaccinated. Experts also said regardless of your vaccination status, masks are still needed.

“What we don’t know right now, but we will know as we gather more information, is that you can get infected even though you’ve been vaccinated, and because you’re vaccinated, have no symptoms,” said top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The news caused sparks to fly and a clash in Congress over mask-wearing policies and social distancing.

“Making this a personal thing and it isn’t,” Fauci said.

“It’s not a personal thing,” Republican congressman Jim Jordan said.

Jordan and Fauci had a heated debate over relaxing restrictions until Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters stepped in.

“You are. That is exactly what you’re doing,” Fauci said. “We’re not talking about liberties. We’re talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans.”

“The American people want Dr. Fauci to answer the question,” Jordan said. “What does it have to be?”

“Your time has expired sir,” Waters said. “If you need to respect the chair and shut your mouth.”

The debate has also impacted state and local leaders.

On Wednesday, Florida’s education commissioner sent a letter to the school districts which read in part, “We ask that school districts, which currently are implementing a mandatory face covering policy, reverse their policy to be voluntary for the 2021-2022 school year.”

South Florida schools said they will stick to guidance from the CDC.

“Masks have been a strong recommendation of the CDC as well as our local public health and medical experts,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

“We’re going to continue doing what we’ve always done and rely on the guidance we’re getting from CDC, making sure that what we’re doing is aligned with Broward County,” said  Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

On Friday morning, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet again on April 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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