So you’re fully vaccinated: What you can (and still shouldn’t) do now
March 31, 2021
COVID-19 news has been less discouraging recently. Daily deaths and cases have dropped or leveled off in many states. As of March 28, over 143,000,000 vaccine doses have made it into the arms of citizens. Over 93,000,000 Americans have received at least one vaccine dose and more than 51,500,000 have gotten two. The CDC reports that 28.2 percent of the US population has gotten one dose and 15.5 percent has gotten two.
I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Wednesday. Despite my low-grade fever the next day, my overall feeling about it was complete elation. After months of staying home except for trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, the end of the COVID-19 tunnel was in sight!
But was it really?
The CDC and Coronavirus Task Force members like Dr. Anthony Fauci warn people not to let their guard down just yet. You should still take safety measures to guard against spreading the virus. Those measures include:
- Wear a mask. In fact, Dr. Fauci urges people to wear 2.
- Maintain 6-foot social distancing.
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
- Avoid medium- or large-sized gatherings.
- Avoid or delay domestic and international travel.
- Be alert for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Adhere to workplace COVID guidelines.
If COVID-19 vaccines are so effective, you may ask, why do I still have to do these things? The CDC states that although the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and in keeping patients who do contract the virus from being hospitalized with serious illness, they may be less effective with regard to the rising tide of COVID variants, which are more transmissible.
“We’re still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease,” the CDC web site warns. “…We’re still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people.”
On CBS’s March 28 “Face the Nation” show, Dr. Fauci warned that it isn’t only variants that are the danger; pulling back on mitigation methods and “super spreader” events like Spring Break gatherings in Florida and Texas are also ill-advised. On MSNBC’s March 29 “Morning Joe” show, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine, said people should think of the 2-dose vaccines as 3-dose ones, since full protection against the virus may require a booster dose. He warned that in some parts of the country, cases are rising, especially among younger people. This could signal a new COVID surge.
Still, for those who have been fully vaccinated, things are looking up. The CDC guidelines have loosened for them. Now fully vaccinated people can:
- Gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks.
- Gather indoors with a single-household group of unvaccinated people without masks UNLESS someone in the group is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- No need to stay away from others or get tested if you have contact with someone who has COVID-19, UNLESS you have symptoms or live in a group setting.
Remember, the measures you take to stay safe will keep others safe, too.
To learn more about COVID-19 guidelines and information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Information page: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/need-to-know.html.