After COVID19 vaccine

PREVENT

After getting the COVID-19 vaccine, what can I do safely?

  • The following guidance is supported by information available at the time of publication. Some information in this article may be out of date. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website for up-to-the-minute recommendations.

Congratulations, you’re fully vaccinated from COVID-19. Can life return to normal now that you’re as protected as possible from the virus? The answer depends on what normal means to you. The vaccine is only one weapon to fight against COVID-19 and variable strains. Some safety restrictions remain on the table. Read on to learn what’s safe and what’s not after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Can fully vaccinated people still get COVID-19?

Fully vaccinated means at least two weeks have passed since your final dose. Medical professionals haven’t determined how well the three FDA-approved vaccines keep people from spreading the disease and if they fully protect you from COVID-19 variants. One common concern is the possibility of catching the disease after receiving the vaccine.

All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths. Studies have also shown that vaccinated people are more protected from COVID-19 than people who have had the disease and recovered.

Do I still need to wear a mask and stay physically distanced?

You should still maintain physical distancing and wear a mask around anyone outside your home. According to the CDC, there are two exceptions – when you’re with other fully vaccinated people or visiting members of a single-family household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 complications.

Vaccine efficacy vs. effectiveness

One common misconception is the difference between vaccine efficacy and effectiveness. Lower efficacy does not mean less protection from the virus. Efficacy measures the vaccine’s performance in a controlled clinical trial in a smaller group, while the general public determines effectiveness.

How long does immunity last?
More research is needed to determine how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect you from the virus and emerging variants. Remember, it takes two to three weeks to build full immunity after your last shot.

What about herd immunity?
Herd immunity means enough people in a community are protected from an infectious disease, making it difficult for the virus to spread to others. Currently, not enough people have been vaccinated or had the disease to reach herd immunity. The CDC has not yet determined how many people need to be vaccinated against the virus to accomplish herd immunity.

Is it safe to resume normal activities?

Any activities involving groups of non-vaccinated people increase your chancer of spreading and contracting COVID-19. Continue to wear a mask, stay at least six feet from others and avoid crowds until herd immunity is achieved. 

  • Indoor restaurant dining. Dining indoors increases your risk of spreading and catching COVID-19. Wearing a mask and eating at the same time is nearly impossible. Putting your mask on between bites isn’t recommended because the virus can be transmitted by touching your face or the front of your mask. Another risk factor is that most restaurants don’t have specialized air filtration equipment to protect people from airborne transmission.

    You can still support local restaurants and lower your risk for exposure by choosing drive-through, delivery or curbside pickup instead. Don’t forget to tip.

  • Traveling. The CDC advises against traveling at this time because not enough people are protected by the vaccination. If travel is essential, get tested one to three days before your trip and three to five days after.

  • Gyms and fitness centers. You breathe more during workouts because your body needs more oxygen. More breathing means more respiratory droplets launched into the air. COVID-19 can easily spread in the air using respiratory droplets as a vessel to others’ bodies. Inconsistent mask use can increase the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 to others. Lower the risk of getting and spreading the virus by exercising outside, wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing.

Can fully vaccinated people spread COVID-19?

While the vaccine protects you, it’s still possible to be asymptomatic or test positive and experience mild symptoms. Asymptomatic means you can carry and spread the virus to others when symptoms aren’t present. 

New guidance from the CDC says vaccinated people don’t need to get tested or stay away from others unless they have symptoms. However, anyone living in a group setting exposed to COVID-19 should get tested and quarantine for 14 days to prevent spreading the virus.

Don’t let your guard down

The vaccine is a critical weapon to protect you and others from COVID-19. The ability to safely see other vaccinated people in person is a big step forward after more than a year of social limitations.

That’s one reason why it’s important to continue following safety guidelines to protect others from the virus. Encourage your friends and loved ones to get the vaccine when it’s their turn, so together, we can all get closer to normal.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Get the facts on the COVID-19 vaccine

    Learn more
  • Read frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines

    Learn more

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