You've gotten the Covid vaccine! Hooray! Even though you're fully vaccinated, don't toss out your masks yet. There are still a lot of unknowns and virus variants out there, but that doesn't mean you can't get back to a sliver of normalcy. Infectious disease specialist, Kristin Englund, MD from the Cleveland Clinic outlines what you can do once you're "fully vaccinated."
Fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks around each other
“If you and one other person have been fully vaccinated or a small group has been, you don’t have to wear masks anymore when you’re indoors,” she says. “That’s going to lead to a lot more freedom and a lot more ability to see people smile — and we’ve all been missing that. But again, let’s keep in mind that the whole group has to be fully vaccinated, and it’s been at least two weeks since everyone’s last vaccine,” says Dr. Englund.
*Why two weeks?
When you get the vaccine, it enters your body and helps your immune system learn how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. You’re not getting the live virus when you’re vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for emergency use simply teach our bodies to protect us from future infection.
It can take about two weeks after vaccination for your body to build up immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19. Because of this, it’s possible to contract COVID-19 before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine didn’t have enough time to work as intended.
Freedom from quarantines
“Another break for those of us who’ve been fully vaccinated, and yet another reason to get fully vaccinated, is that if you do happen to get exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you don’t have to quarantine any more. And if you don’t have symptoms, you can certainly go about your daily business,” Dr. Englund says.
You can see your grandparents
“Let’s say you’re a grandparent and you want to see your grandchild. Your grandchild most likely hasn’t been vaccinated yet. But as long as you’re fully vaccinated, and you’re keeping your interactions together limited to a small group that’s from the same household, you can now see your grandchild without having to wear a mask.”
You shouldn’t throw your masks away and act like things are back to normal
“When you’re going out into public, just because you’re fully vaccinated doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe. You’re going to be interacting with a lot of different people at grocery stores, sporting events, and in other public spaces. So, you’ll absolutely need to continue to wear your masks in those settings.”
Pump the breaks on air travel
“One question that we’re going to hear is whether people can start to travel more. What we need to understand now is this is only the beginning when it comes to loosening the requirements and some of the recommendations,” she says. “As far as travel goes, I recommend holding off on that for now. Let’s enjoy the things that we can do and enjoy those small gatherings. Hopefully, we can look forward to traveling in the near future.”
COVID-19 is still a major concern
“Let’s be careful. Let’s follow these guidelines because otherwise if we’re taking our masks off inappropriately, we’re going to start to see the numbers rise, and all of the things that we have been given the freedom to do right now are going to have to go away. Let’s follow the guidelines — make sure that you’re doing things appropriately when you’re out in public. But really, let’s start to enjoy the time that we can now have with our close friends and loved ones if we’re fully vaccinated.”
Watch The Clevland Comeback: Facts about the Vax Live, Tuesday, March 23 at 9 p.m. on CBS 19
The television special will bring together experts from all three major Cleveland hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and MetroHealth System, to answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Representatives from the Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers will also join the show to offer their personal perspectives on the pandemic experience and words of encouragement as we all look to the future ahead.
Published in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and 19 News.