The shot of hope now comes with a dose of freedom.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the list of safe activities has widened significantly. The changes represent growing confidence in the vaccines, which have been proven to be highly effective against the virus.
Here’s what to know about the new guidelines, according to Terri Hedman, RN, a clinical educator at Sanford Health:
What does ‘fully vaccinated’ mean?
You’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine or two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shot.
The two-week period is important to give your body time to develop a strong immune response to the virus. Before that two-week mark, you are not considered fully protected from COVID-19 and should continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.
What can I do when I am fully vaccinated?
After you’re fully vaccinated, you can gather indoors with others who are fully vaccinated without wearing a mask. You can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with is considered high risk for COVID-19.
If you’re fully vaccinated, you can feel safe visiting your grandchildren. If you want to have dinner with your vaccinated friends, you can feel comfortable doing so. Best of all, you can finally share a hug with a fully vaccinated loved one.
Will I need to quarantine if I’m exposed to COVID-19?
Being fully vaccinated offers another perk: you won’t need to quarantine or get tested after a close contact with someone who has the virus, as long as you don’t have symptoms. However, if you begin to experience symptoms, you’ll need to get tested.
What guidelines haven’t changed?
We still have a ways to go before returning to normal. As we continue to learn more about how the vaccine will affect the spread of COVID-19, those who are fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask and physically distance from others in public. Fully vaccinated individuals should also avoid crowds and spaces with limited ventilation until more research is conducted.
Can I travel if I’m fully vaccinated?
Continue to put your travel plans on pause, says the CDC. The guidelines on travel haven’t changed, and you should avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. If you need to travel, follow the CDC, state and federal guidelines.
I’m not fully vaccinated. What do the changes mean for me?
The CDC guidelines haven’t changed for those who aren’t fully vaccinated or haven’t received the vaccine. If you’re not fully protected, continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance. These safety measures help protect you and those around you by preventing the spread of COVID-19.
What comes next?
The path back to normal life depends on herd immunity, health experts say. Once enough of the U.S. population has received the vaccine, the spread of the virus will be significantly slowed.
How quickly we reach herd immunity will depend on how effective the vaccines are against variants, how many people choose to receive the vaccine and how soon a vaccine will be available for children.
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