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You’re Fully Vaccinated. Now What?

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Author name: Lee Health


What happens after COVID vaccination graphic

As of mid-April, more than 30 million people have been fully vaccinated COVID-19. That’s good news, of course. And the number of vaccinated people continues to grow every day.

But we’re not out of the woods yet, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other leading public health experts.

“If you’re fully vaccinated and with people who haven’t been vaccinated yet, or you don’t know their vaccination status, you absolutely should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” concurs Dr. Stephanie Stovall, Interim Chief of Quality and Patient Safety for Lee Health System.

Dr. Stovall says that although COVID-19 vaccines have proved effective, there’s not enough data yet to know how long they protect against COVID-19 in the real world or how well they prevent you from infecting unvaccinated people who are at risk for severe COVID-19.

Variant strains of COVID-19 also pose a threat, Dr. Stovall adds. “As the pandemic continues, it’s likely more COVID-19 variants will develop. It is possible that our current vaccines may not work as well against future variants. In fact, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented in the United States and globally throughout the pandemic.”

Getting fully vaccinated doesn’t happen overnight

It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.

You are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after your second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
  • If it has been less than 2 weeks since your 1-dose shot, or if you still need to get your second dose of a 2-dose vaccine, you are NOT fully protected.

Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated, Dr. Stovall advises.

“Again, we’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19,” she says. “Wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from others, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often.”

Even if you are fully vaccinated, you should hold off on dining indoors in a restaurant, seeing a movie in a theater, or chilling inside your favorite coffee shop.

But the CDC’s new public health guidelines have opened up our lives a little in response to the vaccination push.

For example, if you’re a parent or grandparent who is fully vaccinated, you’ll rejoice at the recommendation that you can visit your family indoors without masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Even hugs are allowed!

If you’re fully vaccinated and wondering what other behaviors are okay, here’s a rundown of the CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated people:

  • You can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • You can 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
  • You can refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic

However, for the time being, fully vaccinated people should also continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

Source: CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

Compare the three major vaccines:

COVID-19 Vaccine Infographic

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