After months of waiting, you finally got your COVID-19 vaccine! But now what? Can you hug your friends again? Get rid of all your masks? Jet off on a vacation?
Mary’s Center Director of Adult and Family Medicine Dr. Dana Mueller is here to answer all your post-vaccine questions.
First, what does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
Being “fully vaccinated” means your immune system has had time to respond completely to the stimulus of vaccination to develop your defenses. When this occurs depends on which vaccine you received:
- For Pfizer or Moderna, you are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second dose.
- For Johnson & Johnson, you are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your first and only dose.
Until you reach full immunity, you should continue taking all precautions.
What can you do once you’re fully vaccinated?
The biggest change is that you can now safely gather indoors without wearing a mask in certain situations:
- If everyone in the group is fully vaccinated, or…
- If your household is vaccinated and you are gathering with unvaccinated people from one other household.
For example, you could have an unvaccinated couple over for dinner if your house is fully vaccinated, or you can bring your kids to visit their grandmother as long as all of the adults are fully vaccinated. It is still not recommended that you socialize unmasked and indoors with individuals from multiple unvaccinated households.
Keep in mind, if you are spending time with anyone who is unvaccinated and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (such as people with cancer, kidney disease, or heart conditions, pregnant people, and obese people), you should stay outside and wear a mask.
After vaccination, do you have to quarantine if you are exposed to COVID-19?
No, not anymore! If you have contact with someone who has COVID-19, you can go about your daily activities and you don’t need to get tested, unless you develop symptoms.
If you do develop symptoms, you should isolate yourself from people in your home who are well, and be sure to get tested for COVID-19, as infection after vaccination is still possible.
What precautions do you still need to take after being vaccinated?
Until the majority of the population is vaccinated, follow these recommendations to keep yourself and others safe:
- Wear a mask and keep 6 feet of distance from others in public and when gathering with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
- Delay both domestic and international travel when possible
Be sure to follow the specific rules where you live and work, as guidance may vary in different places.
Is it possible to get COVID-19 after being vaccinated?
The vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, but there is still a chance you could contract a mild case of COVID-19, even after being fully vaccinated. If you develop symptoms, be sure to get tested and stay away from others.
As you are making plans to reconnect with family and friends after your vaccination, also take time to reflect on any self-care you may have postponed over the pandemic. Getting vaccinated is the perfect excuse to catch up on dental cleanings, physicals, and other preventive visits. Click here to make an appointment at Mary’s Center.