As more Americans receive their COVID-19 vaccines, many people wonder how being fully vaccinated will change their lives during the pandemic. While experts warn against going hog wild and throwing caution to the wind, they add you will be able to experience new freedoms.
Experts told CNN that no vaccine is 100% effective and immunity is not immediate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes one to two weeks after the second dose for a person to be fully vaccinated.
“Given the current limited information on how well the vaccines work in the general population, vaccinated persons should continue to protect themselves and others,” said CDC’s Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi.
According to SF Gate, well-known infectious disease expert Dr. Bob Wachter of the University of California, San Francisco, said that getting two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine make your chances of getting really sick from the virus “essentially zero.”
But adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols are still recommended.
“My preference is not to get it [the virus], period,” Wachter added, noting that even if you are vaccinated there is a chance you can get mildly ill or transmit the virus to a vulnerable person.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, also at UCSF, said that you still need to be careful in “unregulated environments” such as on public transportation, or in grocery stores.
However, the experts say that while mask-wearing in those situations is still recommended, you are much safer traveling after getting the vaccine, even removing your mask quickly to grab a drink or a bite to eat on a plane.
Chin-Hong said that you can also safely visit elderly parents who have been vaccinated.
“You can give them a hug and have dinner with them,” he told SF Gate. Both Chin-Hong and Wachter said, however, they would decline dining indoors even after getting both shots.
“There’s still a lot of virus around and I’m going to wait until case rates are lower,” said Wachter.
But, the expert adds, that you can safely invite a small group of friends over for dinner if they have also been vaccinated. If they have not, Wachter said he would not take the chance and would join them outdoors only. Chin-Hong agrees, explaining that vaccinated people can still become reinfected or can transit the virus to others.
Both experts say the hosting boisterous birthday parties are a no-no. As the CDC recommends, large gatherings of any kind are discouraged during the pandemic even if you are vaccinated.
“Birthday parties are exciting, and you’d be singing, yelping in joy and having a lot of aerosols in an indoor space,” said Chin-Hong, according to SF Gate. “That would be scary. Keep it outside and social distance and have that extra mask of protection.”
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