COVID-19 FAQs: What can I do once I’m fully vaccinated?

CDC says vaccinated people can unmask and get back to pre-pandemic life

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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, 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?

Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations. This also applies to business and workplace policies.

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?

Outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities, and fully vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk, the CDC says.

Can I travel if I’m fully vaccinated?

You can travel safely within the United States and U.S. territories if you are fully vaccinated. International travel poses additional risks — even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.

The CDC recommends delaying domestic and international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

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 younger than 12.

This story was originally published March 29, 2021. It was updated June 10, 2021, with the latest CDC guidelines for vaccinated individuals.

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Posted In Coronavirus, Frequently Asked Questions, Immunizations

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