What Can I Do Now That I’m Vaccinated?

by | Mar 11, 2021

Congratulations:  Once 14 days has passed since completing all your COVID-19 vaccination shots you are now protected against severe COVID-19. This holds true for both the original strain and forms of variants that are now circulating.

Good news: You are far less likely to transmit the virus to others if you are asymptomatic or mildly sick.

Caution: You may still be at risk of getting an asymptomatic or mild infection. For this reason, you still need to take necessary measures to protect others who have yet to be vaccinated.

What can you do now that was unadvisable before being vaccinated?

In general:

If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, you do not have to quarantine for two weeks if you do not develop symptoms that might be COVID-19.

    • However, if you develop COVID-19 symptoms please isolate yourself, get tested and speak with a health care provider if you test positive.
    • Getting tested is still highly recommended: if you have been in contact with someone infected and if you are routinely interacting with someone who has a compromised immune system and is yet to be vaccinated.
    • Mask up while you wait for test results.
    • Remember: Although you are at a greatly reduced risk of becoming ill, you still may catch an infection that is asymptomatic and pass it on to others.

In private spaces:

Your social bubble can now be expanded to include others who have also been vaccinated. Start this 14 day after yours and their second vaccination.

You can socialize and share a meal inside your home with others who have also been vaccinated.

You can hug a friend or go out with someone who has been vaccinated and enjoy time with them indoors as well as outdoors.

You can play with your grandchildren at home indoors as well as outdoors. Children are far less likely to experience symptomatic COVID-19, and your chances of transmitting the virus to them is greatly reduced by being vaccinated. If you are around children who are vulnerable due to some health condition continue to wear a mask and interact in well ventilated spaces whenever possible.

You can host or attend a small party (10 people or fewer) with people who have been vaccinated.

In public spaces, until vaccination rates are much higher:

You can go to work and interact with the public with far less risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

    • However, it is still important for you to wear a mask to protect your co-workers and others you come in contact with who have yet to be vaccinated.

Your children can return to school and socialize with other children.

    • Just remember – it is still important for your children to wear a mask to protect other students, and vulnerable members of those students’ households as well as school staff who have yet to be vaccinated.

You can go shopping and not worry about coming down with severe COVID-19

    • However, you still need to wear a mask to protect others in stores. You can expand the range of stores you visit beyond stores you shop at for essential items.

You can go to a doctor’s office and not worry about becoming severely  ill with COVID-19

    • However, you need to wear a mask to protect others in the office who may not have been vaccinated.

You can get a haircut or a pedicure far more safely than before.

    • You and your hairdresser or pedicurist should  continue to wear a mask to keep each other safe.

You can go to a coffee shop and hang out outside or inside if physical distancing guidelines are followed

    • You should continue to wear a mask to protect others in case you have an asymptomatic infection.

You can go to a bar and hang out with your vaccinated friends, preferably outside.

    • Wear a mask in case you have an asymptomatic infection unless you are actively eating or drinking.

You can go to a restaurant where physical distancing is in place and have a meal indoors or outdoors if your waiter is wearing a mask.

    • You should wear your mask unless you are actively eating or drinking to protect other diners who may not have been vaccinated.

You can work out in a gym or go to a yoga studio and not worry about becoming ill with severe COVID-19.

    • Wear a mask to protect others who have yet to be vaccinated. Bear in mind that  breathing hard is associated with greater dissemination of the virus should you have an asymptomatic infection.

You can play an outdoor sport like volleyball or soccer with your vaccinated friends, and you don’t need to wear a mask for these activities.

You can go on a walk or hike with your vaccinated friends (or take a walk with a pet) without fear of becoming ill with severe COVID-19. If you are in an uncrowded area, you do not need to wear a mask.

You can go to a place of worship and not worry about becoming severely ill.

    • Wear a mask to protect others who may not have been vaccinated.

When traveling

Until cases of COVID-19 fall and vaccination rates are far higher, travel remains risky and the CDC is advising caution and asking the public to only engage in essential travel.

If you choose to travel it is important to adopt harm reduction steps.

Travel in the USA

You can now feel far safer traveling in a car or bus with others who are vaccinated, even if they are not in your social bubble.

    • Wear a mask and practice physical  distancing with anyone not in your social bubble, given that the risk of infection still exists.

You can now take a road trip with others who have been vaccinated and stay overnight in a motel or hotel as long as you wear a mask when leaving your room.

If you opt to fly, you have less risk of contracting severe COVID-19.

    • To protect yourself from infection, and to protect others you should keep your mask on and practice physical distancing (in the airport terminal) in accord with safety guidelines and airport policies.

International travel

If you are considering international travel, pay attention to the following information, but bear in mind this information may not be available or reliable in many countries.

    • How well the virus is being controlled at the point of destination
    • Number of cases and deaths – are they rising or falling over a 3-4-week period of time
    • Health care access
    • Prevalence of new variants of the virus if such data is available – since we aren’t yet sure how well the current vaccines protect against them
    • A country’s overall and region-specific vaccination rate

Consult the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites for the latest information

Testing pre and post travel

Whenever you travel out of state or out of the country by it is advisable to take a COVID-19 test before you travel and when you return home just to make sure you are not infected.

    • It is best to get tested 3–5 days after travel and to  stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, even if your  test is negative.
    • This is to protect significant others you may come in contact with who may not be vaccinated and to prevent the spread of variants from other places.

Continue to consult CDC guidelines as they change in response to the evolving COVID-19 scenario.

The HCW HOSTED Epidemiology & Medical Anthropology team, led by Mark Nichter, PhD, MPH provides evidence-based filtering of available COVID-19 information and summarizes what we do and do not know in simple language.


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