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I'm fully vaccinated. What can I do now?

Roadrunners are encouraged to remain vigilant and committed to keeping themselves and others safe.

By Ruben Zorilla, M.D., medical director, Health Center at Auraria

April 28, 2021

A close up of a nurse's gloved hand holding a Covid-19 vaccine syringe.Now that many Roadrunners and community members have been fully vaccinated, many within our community are asking, “What can/should I do now?”

First of all, hurray! The vaccines in the U.S. are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe Covid-19 illness. Additionally, new evidence is showing that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and less likely to transmit Covid-19 to others.

Now what does all that excitement mean?

For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for Covid-19:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Simply being vaccinated does not mean you can’t get Covid-19. How long vaccine protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants are still being investigated. New research has shown that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 90% effective in the real world and last up to six months. Until more is known and vaccination coverage increases, some prevention measures will continue to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status.

Don’t despair – there are several activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now at low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others.

Fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe Covid-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • In public spaces, follow guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a well-fitted maskphysical distancing (at least 6 feet), avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often and following any applicable workplace or school guidance.
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe Covid-19 disease.
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid crowds and in-person gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Get tested if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, especially following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health-department travel requirements and recommendations.

What does this look like?

If you are fully vaccinated, it is a low risk to you and other fully vaccinated friends to gather inside your home for dinner, game night, study sessions, etc., without a mask and be less than 6 feet away from one another.

However, those same visits between fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people are at increased risk of illness. Therefore, the level of precaution should be determined by the risk factors of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against Covid-19. Be considerate and take precautions including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart and visiting outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.

If fully vaccinated people are to visit people who are unvaccinated and are at low risk of severe disease from Covid-19, then the visit can occur without masks due to a low likelihood of transmission of disease. For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit indoors with their unvaccinated healthy daughter and her healthy children without wearing masks or physical distancing, provided that none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe Covid-19.

However, if multiple households contain unvaccinated members, then all should continue to take precautions by wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart and visiting outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.

All people, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to avoid crowds or more than 10-person gatherings. The risk of transmission is elevated, and the vaccines are not perfect. If they choose to participate, fully vaccinated people should continue to adhere to prevention measures that reduce spread, including wearing a well-fitted mask, maintaining physical distance from others and washing hands frequently.

The risk of contracting Covid-19 during public indoor activities such as dining at a restaurant or working out at a gym is lower for fully vaccinated people. However, precautions should still be taken to reduce the transmission risk to unvaccinated people. This means wearing a well-fitted mask, maintaining physical distance from others, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs or sneezes and washing hands frequently.

How about travel?

On April 2, the CDC released its newest travel recommendations: People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.

If you are not fully vaccinated, keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated. If you have a condition or are taking medication that weakens your immune system, you may not be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated.

During travel

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

After travel

  • Self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.
  • You do not need to get tested or self-quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months. You should still follow all other travel recommendations.

What should I do if I am fully vaccinated and develop Covid-19 symptoms?

Although the risk that fully vaccinated people could become infected with Covid-19 is low, any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with Covid-19 should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for Covid-19 and be tested for SARS-CoV-2 if indicated. The symptomatic fully vaccinated person should inform their health care provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.

What should I do if I am fully vaccinated and exposed to Covid-19?

Fully vaccinated people with no Covid-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, as their risk of infection is low. However, fully vaccinated people who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for Covid-19, including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated, and inform their health care provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.

If you are fully vaccinated and are exposed to a Covid-19 variant, then you should quarantine for 14 days. You will not know you are exposed to a variant unless told by the individual or a health department. The concern is that the variants pose a higher risk of illness compared with the original Covid virus.

Topics: Health, Health Center at Auraria

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