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What you can and should do after you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Safety | Wellness | June 3, 2021
Man holds COVID-19 vaccine card
Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 allows people to return to normal activities, but some exclusions remain.

More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, people around the world are being vaccinated against the disease.  

The vaccines are effective at preventing a person from getting COVID-19, as well as lessening the severity of the potential illness and risk of death. 

That’s great news for those who are fully vaccinated, said Catherine Kroll, PeaceHealth’s director of infection prevention. 

“This is an exciting first step to returning to our pre-pandemic lives,” she said. “However, we need to follow the revised CDC guidelines until we know more about how the vaccines will affect the spread of the coronavirus.”    

What does ‘fully vaccinated’ mean? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a person fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – that’s two weeks after the second dose; for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that’s two weeks after the single dose.  

If you are not yet fully vaccinated, you are not fully protected and need to keep practicing safety precautions.  

What can I do (after vaccination)?

Once a person is fully vaccinated, the CDC says:  

  • You no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including hospital, local business and workplace guidance.

  • You can resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.

  • You can refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.

  • You can refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings.

  • You can refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

  • You can refrain from routine screening testing if feasible.

What should I keep doing (after vaccination)?

Health experts are still learning a few key insights, such as how long the vaccinated person will remain fully protected, how effective the vaccines are in preventing a vaccinated person from spreading the virus, and how well the vaccines will protect against virus variants.  

While some of the early research is encouraging, the CDC says even those who are vaccinated should continue to:

  • Follow the guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
  • Take steps to protect yourself and others if you are traveling. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.  Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested 3 days before travel by air into the United States (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider and discuss your activities, if you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system. You may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19. 

When can we go back to normal? 

The pandemic likely won’t be declared over until we reach herd immunity. Herd immunity means enough people are immune to the virus, either through exposure or vaccination. Scientists believe we’ll need more than 70% of the population to be immune to stop the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.  

 

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