We’ve all come a long way and faced many challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. If you are finally vaccinated against the virus, congratulations! Even with your COVID-19 vaccination out of the way, you still probably have questions on how to proceed with life. It’s the question that we’re all asking – what can I do after I’ve been vaccinated?
Can I see friends and family, including grandchildren? Do I still have to wear a mask? Here’s a guide to how to go on with life after you’ve been vaccinated. We’ve broken it down into some time markers to provide additional details.
What Can I Do Right After I’ve Been Vaccinated?
- Plan to stick close to home to see if you have any vaccine side effects. Even if you didn’t have a reaction the first time around (if you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, which requires two shots), you still could have a reaction the second time that you have been vaccinated. Side effects from the second shot can be more intense. Side effects include a sore arm, fatigue, a fever, and aches. Those should last a day or so.
You can help reduce your side effects by drinking lots of fluids, wearing light clothing, and using a cool washcloth on your arm. Ask your doctor in advance if you can use over-the-counter pain relievers for any side effects, but don’t use them beforehand, the CDC cautions. Let your doctor know if any redness in your arm gets worse after 24 hours or if you have side effects that aren’t getting better after a couple of days.
- Place your vaccine card in a safe place right after you’ve been vaccinated. This is a card you should have received that indicates what type of vaccine you got and when. Federal and local government authorities are not keeping extensive records at this point on who has been vaccinated, so it’s up to you to keep the card safe. Make a copy of the card and/or take a picture of it with your phone. If you make a copy of the card, place it with other paperwork, such as other medical documents. If you didn’t get a vaccine card, contact your vaccination provider or your state’s Department of Health to find out how to get it.
What Can I Do Within Two Weeks of Being Vaccinated?
The vaccine doesn’t confer full protection until two weeks after your shot. During those two weeks, continue your “pandemic lifestyle,” which should include wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a complete list of prevention tips here that apply both to those who are unvaccinated and those who are in the two-week window of time after having a final vaccination.
What Can I Do Two Weeks After Being Vaccinated?
- It’s OK to visit family members from one household without wearing masks after you’ve been vaccinated. Missing your grandchildren? Good news! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says if you are fully vaccinated, it’s safe to visit people from one other household. You don’t have to use masks. This might be the best thing that you can do after you have been vaccinated.
The one exception: If there is someone in that household who is medically vulnerable, you need to remain extra cautious. Here is a list from the CDC of those who can still be at higher risk, and it includes those with cancer, diabetes, and liver disease. That’s because there is a chance you could still be a carrier for the virus.
- Plan to wear masks when you go to stores or other places with the general public. You should also continue to keep six feet of distance and avoid crowds, the CDC advises. This is because scientists are still researching how the vaccines protect us in the long term.
- It’s OK to get together with a small group of other people who also are fully vaccinated. You can have a get together indoors or outdoors. You don’t have to wear masks either way.
- You don’t need to isolate or get tested if you’ve been around someone who has the coronavirus. However, those living in a correctional facility or group home should avoid others for 14 days and get tested, due to the potential high rate of spread.
- Avoid medium and large gatherings. Best to keep things small and familial as we all learn together to cope with this new world.
- It’s OK to travel domestically for essential travel, according to recently released CDC guidelines. If you must travel, follow CDC guidance on how to travel safely. Check any travel guidelines to the destination you plan to visit.
- Know that it is still possible to get sick from COVID-19 even if you have had the vaccine. None of the vaccines available now are 100% effective against it. However, the vaccines will help prevent you from getting seriously ill with the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective at preventing the virus, Moderna’s vaccine is 94% effective, and Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is 66% effective. Research is still ongoing about how or if the vaccines protect against the COVID-19 variants that are currently spreading across the globe. The vaccines do appear to offer some protection but it isn’t clear how much.
- If you are past the 14-day time period after getting your final vaccine, it’s safe to get any other vaccines you might need, such as the flu shot or shingles vaccine.
Once you have waited at least two weeks after your final vaccination, the answer to your question, ‘what can I do after I’m vaccinated’, is that you can slowly fall back into life as normal. You need to continue to take precautions such as wearing a mask when in a public space, but it’s okay to spend time with loved ones and you can feel far more comfortable when it comes to daily interactions.