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Masks 101: All of your top questions answered

Searches about kids wearing masks spiked after the CDC shared new mask guidance.
/ Source: TODAY

New mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most indoor or outdoor settings, but the recent change in guidelines has left some people confused.

NBC News investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen stopped by TODAY to answer some of the most searched questions about mask-wearing.

Do kids still need to wear masks?

For now, kids should still wear masks, especially when in crowded indoor settings. The new CDC guidelines only apply to fully vaccinated people, and right now, children under the age of 12 can't be vaccinated.

However, parents should consider giving kids "mask breaks" when they are outside, since the risk of contracting the virus in an outdoor setting is "miniscule," according to Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

What if state or local rules require wearing masks?

While the CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing their masks indoors, several states and local areas still have mask mandates that require face coverings be worn in indoor settings. Those rules do trump the CDC guidelines, according to Nguyen, and even if you're in an area that doesn't have a mask mandate, a private business can still ask you to wear a mask.

"If a private business asks you to put your mask on inside, you should, and that's a courtesy," Nguyen said. "So carry that mask around with you ... We are in the transition period for sure."

Can we hug again?

This was one of the top searches this week, and Nguyen was excited to say that people can indeed "hug it out" if everyone involved is fully vaccinated. If you are not yet vaccinated, Nguyen still recommends wearing a mask for any hugs.

Weddings are back. How do you ask about vaccination status?

Weddings and other large events were mostly put on hold during the pandemic, but some are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, some people are worried about how to politely ask their guests about vaccination status.

Al Roker said that his daughter Courtney, who is getting married this year, wrote on the wedding invitations that they would "love people to be vaccinated," which Nguyen said was the best way to handle the situation.

"Just be straight forward," Nguyen said. "Don't stigmatize it. As Dr. (Natalie) Azar and many others have said, start by being open about your own vaccination status. ... What people do affects you, so it's OK to ask, be upfront, just don't judge."

Nguyen offered a short list of tips people could keep in mind when asking about vaccination status:

  • Be open about your status.
  • Offer up solutions to reduce risk.
  • Don’t show judgment.
  • Give an incentive.
  • If someone is not vaccinated, ask them to wear a mask and social distance.

Is it safe to drink alcohol after getting the vaccine?

Nguyen said that according to NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres, it is "fine to have one or two drinks" after your vaccination. However, drinking more than that can affect the immune system, which could potentially make the vaccine less effective.