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 now have the most protection from infection possible, experts advise it is important to follow local public health guidance 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.

Read below to learn about fully vaccinated life, and check the CDC website for the latest guidance as it changes as experts learn more.

Do I still need to wear a mask?

Fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Regardless of level of transmission, people who are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19 should consider wearing a mask when indoors.

Although the vaccines have proven effective at preventing people from developing symptoms of COVID-19, fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus. So masking can help protect those around you who might be vulnerable or unvaccinated.

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

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, however some states might require negative test results. Travelers should continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance and wash their hands frequently to protect others who may be unvaccinated or immunocompromised. 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?

Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested five days or more after exposure, and they should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

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