Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

By Miriam Raftery

Photo credit:  County News Service

February 10, 2022 (San Diego) – Starting February 15, fully vaccinated people will no longer have to wear masks indoors in most places in San Diego County.  But the action runs counter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control advice, which continues to recommend face masks, particularly N95 masks, as the best way to prevent spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Well-fitted masks will still be required indoors for people who are not fully vaccinated. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one shot of the Johnson and Johnson immunization.

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must still wear masks on public transit, in schools and daycares, healthcare settings, detention centers, senior facilities,   homeless and emergency shelters, and cool zones.

The County change follows the California Department of Health lifting the mask mandate statewide, though counties are free to have stricter rules. Mask mandates remain in place in some areas, including San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“People who are not fully vaccinated are more likely to become infected compared to people who have received all the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccines are the best protection there is to prevent people from getting seriously ill, ending in the hospital or, worse, dying.”

The changes raise several problems.  First, relying on the honor system without checking vaccination status means there’s no way to be sure that an unmasked person behind you in the grocery store line is vaccinated.  Second, vaccine effectiveness drops sharply over time, but there is no requirement for individuals to have the booster shot before taking off masks around others. 

While students must stay masked for now, due in part to low vaccination rates among young people, the County Board of Supervisors voted Feb. 8 to ask CDPH to phase out masking in schools in a “safe and responsible” manner.

On Feb. 7, CDPH announced that “the state is continuing to work with education, public health and community leaders to update masking requirements at schools to adapt to changing conditions and ensure the safety of kids, teachers and staff.”

Where to Get COVID-19 Vaccines

The region has plenty of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses, which now exceed 1.1 million in the region. The county has more than 400 vaccination sites including pharmacies, medical providers, clinics, and County locations. You can also make an appointment or find a site near you by calling (833) 422-4255 or visiting the MyTurn or websites.

The pandemic is not over.  The County reports 119 new deaths from January 2 through February 4. 

San Diego County’s case rate per 100,000 residents is 118.3 for people fully vaccinated and boosted, 186.3 for fully vaccinated people and 353.0 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans. The 14-day rolling percentage of positive cases among tests reported through Feb. 6, 2022 is 13.2%, however the actual rate is likely higher since county figures do not include results of at-home tests now widely in use.


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.