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

Person receiving the COVID-19 vaccination

If you’ve received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and waited a few weeks for your body to develop maximum protection from the virus, you might think it’s safe to return to a pre-pandemic way of life.

Although you are now protected from infection, experts advise to continue following public health guidelines until a sufficient proportion of the population joins you in the ranks of the vaccinated.

Here are some frequently asked questions about life post-vaccine:

Do I still need to wear a mask?

Yes, 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?

If all the people you plan to meet have been vaccinated, the risk of anyone being infected is greatly reduced, especially if you plan to socialize outdoors. You should continue to keep group sizes small, though.

It’s also important to continue to limit interactions with people who aren’t vaccinated. If you choose to visit with friends and extended family who haven’t been vaccinated, do so outside and remember to wear a mask and stay six feet apart from one another.

As a greater percentage of the population is vaccinated, public health guidance will be updated.

Is travel safe yet?

Experts agree now isn’t the time to travel because the virus is still circulating, and travel can increase the risk of infection. When most of the population is vaccinated and we’ve reached herd immunity, it should be safe to resume travel. It’s also worth researching any travel 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 if you meet the following criteria, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • You’ve received two vaccine doses and are at least two weeks removed from the second shot.
  • You received the last dose within the past three months.
  • You have been asymptomatic since the exposure.

If you don’t meet all three criteria, then you should quarantine according to CDC guidance.

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