For many people, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is seen as the light at the end of a longer-than-expected tunnel caused by the global pandemic. It’s not uncommon to hear those at vaccination sites thanking the healthcare workers, sometimes unexpectedly bursting into tears of joy and relief that it’s the start of a return to life as we normally know it.
The key word is “start.” Simply getting vaccinated doesn’t grant one carte blanche to return to unrestricted activity. For starters, there is a two-week period after receiving the full dosage before the vaccine reaches its full efficacy. On top of that, while the vaccine diminishes the chances that you can become infected and greatly reduces the chances of serious illness even if you do, there is still a risk that you can contract the COVID-19 virus unknowingly and transmit it to others — as Dr. Anthony Fauci recently pointed out.
With this in mind, the CDC has come up with guidance on what you should and shouldn’t do once vaccinated. Here’s a quick overview with some practical advice.
What Fully Vaccinated People Can Do
- Visit other vaccinated people – Indoor gatherings have been responsible for a great deal of COVID-19 transmission throughout the pandemic, and many of the changes made in the way we work and live have been done to prevent people from coming in close contact indoors. Fortunately, the risk of fully vaccinated people making each other sick is almost nil, which is why the CDC says it’s fine for small indoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated people to take place, even without masks. Visits with a single household of unvaccinated people are also OK, though you should check first to ensure no one is in a high-risk category for serious illness.
- Travel without quarantining – Travel of all kinds has taken a dramatic downturn since spring of 2020, and even interstate travel within the United States has been subject to quarantines at various times as different jurisdictions grappled with how best to control the spread of COVID-19. The good news is that vaccinated people can travel domestically or internationally with no need to quarantine when they return, and without having to take a pre-travel test in the U.S. Please note, however, that international travel may still require a test, so be sure to know the current regulations of your destination before making plans.
What Fully Vaccinated People Should Not Do
- Stop wearing masks in public – The U.S. is making great progress in its vaccination efforts, with recent reports stating that nearly half of all adults have received at least one dose and nearly one in three have been fully vaccinated. That’s still far short of the percentages needed to prevent further spread of COVID-19, so for the time being, the CDC advises that everyone should still wear properly-fitted masks and practice physical distancing in public whenever possible.
- Take part in large in-person gatherings – In line with the guidance about masks and other preventative measures, we’re still not quite at the point where it’s a good idea to have hundreds of people together in one place. For example, while sports teams have begun allowing fans to return to stadiums, most are sticking to stringent limits on attendance, spacing out groups of ticket holders and requiring mask usage. Even after receiving your full vaccine dosage, you should refrain from large gatherings for now.
Remember that, as it has been throughout, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a fluid situation that can change based on data received by government and health officials on a regular basis. Be sure to follow the current recommendations laid out by the CDC, as they should allow fully vaccinated people to return to more activities in the months to come.
Forward’s COVID-19 Care Program is open to all members and includes symptom and risk assessments, access to the COVID vaccine, and comprehensive treatment for those who contract the virus. Once you’re vaccinated, follow the advice of your local health officials, and continue to protect yourself and your family by staying up-to-date with the latest information and guidance from the CDC, which you can access through the app.