What Can You Do Once You're Fully Vaccinated for COVID-19?
We’re fortunate that we now have three different, very safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and more and more people are getting vaccinated!
Maybe you’re feeling a little nervous about what being fully vaccinated means in relation to your daily activities. That’s to be expected after an entire year of living in a pandemic and limiting contact with others. Whether you’re already vaccinated or excitedly anticipating that day, you probably have questions about what this all means.
When am I considered fully vaccinated?
No matter which of the three vaccine brands you get, they all teach your immune system to recognize the COVID-19 virus as something harmful to your body and to fight it if you are exposed.
You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two weeks after receiving your single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
When can I gather with others without masks or distancing?
Being fully vaccinated means there are some wonderful changes in what you can do!
- In most circumstances, fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine or get tested after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 if they don’t have symptoms.
And here’s the really great news: People who are fully vaccinated don’t need to keep six feet distance or wear a mask in certain situations:
- When in an enclosed space where everyone in the space is fully vaccinated.
- When in an enclosed space with people from a single household who aren’t fully vaccinated and they and anyone they live with aren’t at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease, as defined by the CDC.
Let’s break down what that could look like:
Shanice and Claire are fully vaccinated. They want to have their friends Candace and Raúl over to their house for game night. Candace is fully vaccinated. Raúl has gotten a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but it has been only one week since his dose.
In this situation, with three people fully vaccinated, they can get together and would consider Raúl unvaccinated since it hasn’t been two full weeks since his dose of vaccine. They’re excited that they can have game night and can’t wait to see one another without masks and distancing!
Tom and Nancy are fully vaccinated. They want to have their son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids over for Sunday brunch at their house. Their son and grandkids have no risk for severe COVID-19 disease and have not been vaccinated yet, but their daughter-in-law has chronic kidney disease, which puts her at increased risk. She has received a first dose of Pfizer vaccine but has not had her second dose yet.
Tom and Nancy could:
- Have the family over and remain masked and distanced.
- Wait until their daughter-in-law is also fully vaccinated. Then the whole family can come over without the need for masks or distancing.
Jian has been invited to hang out with a group of friends at his friend Brandon’s apartment. Jian and Brandon are both fully vaccinated. Jian has never met Brandon’s friends and doesn’t know if they’re fully vaccinated.
- Ask Brandon to check the vaccination status of everyone who is coming. If everyone is fully vaccinated, they’re ok to hang out together indoors and without masks. If not, Jian needs to talk to Brandon about another option, below.
- Ask Brandon to let everyone know they’ll need to be masked and distanced at the apartment.
- Tell Brandon “no thanks” for now, and to let him know about the next hangout once everyone is fully vaccinated.
Stefan and Matt go up north every summer with Stefan’s parents and brother and stay in a cabin together. Matt is the only one who is not fully vaccinated yet.
Stefan and Matt are one household with one member fully vaccinated and the other member unvaccinated. Stefan’s parents are another household with both members fully vaccinated. Stefan’s brother is in a third household that is fully vaccinated. They know that they can rent their cabin together as usual, being together indoors and unmasked, and are counting down the months until summer!
What precautions should I keep taking?
While you’re waiting for your vaccine to be fully effective in protecting you from COVID-19, you should continue the everyday prevention measures you’ve been taking throughout the pandemic. And even once you’re fully vaccinated, you’ll need to continue to mask and distance while in public, when you’re gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household, or when you’re with unvaccinated people at increased risk of COVID-19 or that live with people at increased risk. So going to the grocery store, mall, to a doctor’s appointment, to the pharmacy, anywhere in public, you’re still wearing your mask and keeping six feet distance from others.
You may be wondering why you need to continue everyday prevention measures once you’re fully vaccinated. How long the vaccine protects you and how well it protects you from the new variants of the virus are still being investigated. Additionally, when you’re in a public space you have no way of knowing if people around you are vaccinated or unvaccinated or if they are an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Taking everyday precautions helps reduce spread of the virus and gets us to our goal of ending the pandemic.
The vaccine is the key to ending this pandemic and getting all of our lives back to normal and our local economy back on track. If you’re already fully vaccinated, congratulations! If it hasn’t been your turn yet, it will be soon. Remember that all three authorized vaccines are safe and effective, and that the best vaccine you can get is the one your vaccinator has available!
The sooner you can get vaccinated, the sooner you can get together with friends, give your grandparent a hug, and do the things you’ve been missing.