Fully Vaccinated… Now What?

By Hanna Yamato

Over the course of the last couple months, about 251 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to people across the United States. While healthcare workers and the elderly were first priority in receiving the vaccine, those who were either immunocompromised or essential workers came next. Finally, around April, most states made the vaccine available to anyone over the age of 16. Although the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on hold for a short period of time, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines have been successfully administered nationwide, with an average of 1.75 million doses given daily. While experts say that “around 75% to 85% of the U.S. population needs to be immune for COVID-19 to stop spreading through communities,” getting the vaccine is one step closer to a new normal. 

Based on clinical trials, COVID-19 vaccines are about 95% effective (depending on type of vaccine) at protecting you from catching the virus and getting sick. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), people are considered “fully vaccinated:”

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine

Additionally, after you have been fully vaccinated, you can start to do certain things you were able to do pre-pandemic. This includes:

  • Gathering indoors with other fully vaccinated people without masks/social distancing
  • When traveling within the U.S., you are not required to get tested nor self-quarantine before and after travel
  • Gathering indoors with unvaccinated people from other households without social distancing

However, just because you are fully vaccinated does not mean that you are completely off the hook. You should still take precautions for the sake of protecting yourself and others by wearing a mask and social distancing in public spaces, washing/sanitizing your hands, and avoiding large gatherings/crowds. This is especially paramount in public areas, because younger children (anyone under the age of 16) are not yet eligible for the vaccine, therefore not as protected/immune as those who are fully vaccinated. Moreover, traveling—both domestically and internationally, is still not encouraged, but if you do, a mask is still required on all public transportation services. 

Since COVID-19 is a relatively new disease, scientists, researchers, and physicians are still learning everyday about the effects of the vaccine against certain variants, how long the vaccine is effective, and so much more. Nonetheless, having access to the vaccine itself is a huge privilege, so use this wisely and continue to protect yourself and others.