Coronavirus Chronicles

What You Can and Can't Do Once You're Vaccinated

No hugging people on the street—yet.

By Benjamin Cassidy March 16, 2021

Unmasked apartment gatherings with other fully vaccinated people? Be our guest.

Every day, thousands of Washingtonians join the ranks of the vaccinated. After a slow start, Washington's coronavirus vaccine rollout is now at full throttle, which means the rest of us can at least fathom the possibility of receiving our shots sometime this spring.

Whether you're already dosed or still awaiting those special jabs, it's important to know how to behave after your appointments, for your own health and others'. Here's what you need to know about life after vaccination.

Protection isn't immediate. According to the CDC, you're not fully vaccinated until two weeks after you've received the second dose of either the NIH-Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, or two weeks after your sole shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Before that time, you should continue to act as you have been (hopefully) throughout the pandemic, taking all preventative measures for Covid-19.

Even once you're fully vaccinated, you should still follow many public health best practices. While we know that the three available vaccines are remarkably effective in protecting against new cases of Covid-19, scientists are still trying to figure out if vaccinated people can spread the virus asymptomatically to others, especially with new variants in the mix. Early evidence for the Pfizer shots of significantly diminished transmission is promising, but it's best to play it safe for now and continue to:

  • Stay six feet away from others
  • Wear a mask
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

Full vaccination does give you a bit more social freedom. You can party like it's 2019 with other fully vaccinated people indoors, forgoing masks and social distancing. And you can do the same with unvaccinated people from one other household, provided they're all at a low risk of contracting severe Covid-19 (if not, default to pandemic norms).

Unless you're feeling sick, forget about quarantining or enduring more brain-tickling tests. You don't have to stop everything and head to a testing site if someone in your life gets Covid-19. As long as you don't show any symptoms, you can keep on keepin' on.

You can travel! You may be tempted to hop on a plane the moment you're fully vaccinated. You can...provided your destination is somewhere else in the U.S.

Keep following any and all workplace health guidelines. Don't hit the conference room unmasked with other vaccinated coworkers; you'll still have to adhere to your employer's rules.

Monitor your health for any Covid-19 symptoms. As mentioned before, the vaccines work extremely well against this coronavirus. But they're not perfect. If you do experience any Covid-19 symptoms, get tested and stay home.

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