You’re vaccinated against COVID-19. Now what?

Person receiving the COVID-19 vaccination

If you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, you might think it’s safe to return to a pre-pandemic way of life.

Although you are now protected from infection and can enjoy some things you weren’t able to do over the past year, experts advise it is important to continue following mask and distancing guidelines in public until a sufficient proportion of the population joins you in the ranks of the vaccinated. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the one-dose vaccine or two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series. 

Here is what you need to know about fully vaccinated life:

Do I still need to wear a mask?

Yes. When you’re in public, you should still wear a mask, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands often.

Although the vaccines have proven effective at preventing people from developing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s unclear whether (or to what extent) people who are vaccinated can still carry and spread the virus. So, it’s important to continue following guidelines until we have more information.

We also don’t know how long immunity lasts. Again, we need more data to know for sure, and this will help determine updated public health guidance.

Can I gather with friends and family now?

Yes, you can. The CDC says people who are fully vaccinated can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

If all the people you plan to meet have been fully vaccinated, the risk of anyone being infected is greatly reduced. It is still not advised to meet with high-risk people who have not been vaccinated.

Read the guidelines.

Is travel safe yet?

If you are fully vaccinated, meaning you’ve waited two weeks after your final vaccine dose, the CDC guidelines allow for domestic travel without a COVID-19 test or quarantine period. Travelers should continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance and wash their hands frequently. It is also worth researching travel destinations, especially international destinations, to see what community spread is like in that area.

If I’ve been vaccinated and exposed to the virus, do I need to quarantine?

If you’ve been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • If you’ve been fully vaccinated and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate yourself and talk with your doctor to determine if you should be tested. 

  • If you’ve been vaccinated and are not experiencing symptoms, you do not need to quarantine or isolate yourself as your infection risk is low. You should monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days and contact your doctor’s office is any symptoms develop.

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