WAKEFIELD — According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MassDPH), COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine boosters are highly effective at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death; therefore, every individual who is eligible and works, studies or resides in Massachusetts is strongly urged to get vaccinated and boosted.

MassDPH urges all eligible residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because vaccination provides the most effective protection from severe illness associated with COVID-19.

In response to the spread of the Delta variant and the emerging Omicron variant, as of December 21, MassDPH now advises that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in their own home).

MassDPH particularly urges this recommendation if you have a weakened immune system or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.

Your primary care physician can advise you whether you are at increased risk. Information from the Centers for Disease Control regarding the conditions that may put you at increased risk can be found at: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medicalconditions.html.

All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including:  public and private transportation services, health care facilities, congregate care facilities and emergency shelter programs. Also included in this requirement are Houses of Correction, Department of Corrections prisons, jails and other correctional facilities; and health care and day services and programs operated through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services or one of its agencies and home health care workers.

The following persons are exempt from the face coverings requirement:

• Children under 5 years old.

• Persons for whom a face mask or covering creates a health risk or is not safe because of any of the following conditions or circumstances:

–the face mask or covering affects the person’s ability to breathe safely;

–the person has a mental health or other medical diagnosis that advises against wearing a face mask or covering;

–the person has a disability for which wearing a face mask or covering is not advised; or

–the person depends on supplemental oxygen to breathe.

Please see www.mass.gov/maskrules for a complete list of venues where face coverings have remained mandatory in Massachusetts since May 29, 2021

The current mask requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and its Policy on Vaccination Rate Threshold issued on September 27, 2021 are not impacted by this advisory.

According to the MassDPH, as a result of the most comprehensive and robust school testing program in the country, with 99 percent of public, collaborative and charter districts enrolled, Massachusetts elementary and secondary schools remain open and safe for children to engage in learning, with over 325,000 school days saved

Only schools which can demonstrate that they have high vaccination rates of over 80 percent of all individuals vaccinated are able to remove masks for vaccinated individuals upon a written attestation.

For individuals who are not fully vaccinated, it is especially important that you wear a face covering or mask any time you are indoors and not in your own home to reduce the chance that you may spread COVID-19 to other people. People who show no symptoms of illness may still be able to spread COVID-19, according to the MassDPH.

People are fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

However, fully vaccinated individuals who becomes symptomatic should be tested and wear a mask until they receive test results.

Masks: A good fit matters

When wearing a face covering or cloth mask, it should:

• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

• Be secured with ties or ear loops

• Include multiple layers of fabric

• Allow for breathing without restriction, and

• Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

For more information, refer to the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html.

This MassDPH advisory may change based on public health data and further guidance from the CDC.