Sunday, August 14, 2022

I’m fully vaccinated… now what?

People who were exposed may benefit from a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A if they get it within two weeks of being exposed. (WYDaily/Courtesy Flickr)
(WYDaily/Courtesy Flickr)

NATIONWIDE — Every day, more and more Americans are receiving their much-anticipated doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many of us are thinking, “Now that I am fully vaccinated, I can go back to life as normal, right?”

Not quite.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), as of Wednesday, April 14, 1,896,053 people (or 22.2% of Virginia’s population) have been fully vaccinated. (For more detailed information, visit the VDH’s site by clicking here.)

With more residents receiving their final doses as we tip toe towards vacation season, there is much anticipation to get back to the way things were before COVID-19.

However, being fully vaccinated does not give you the ability to turn back the clock. Here are some important things to know after you’ve been fully vaccinated.

  1. While you can start gathering indoors, you can only do so safely with other fully vaccinated people. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that fully vaccinated people can gather together without having to wear masks or be socially distanced from one another. However, if there is a possibility that someone is not fully vaccinated or has a loved one that may be medically high risk, fully vaccinated people must continue to follow guidelines for safe gathering. The CDC also discourages gatherings of large groups, even if everyone is fully vaccinated.
  2. People are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving their final dose of one of the mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine.
  3. Though your risk of contracting COVID-19 is reduced considerably, this does not mean that you are immune. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you become infected, you are still considered a carrier for the disease, even if you don’t show any symptoms. In other words, if you contract COVID-19, you can still pass it along to other people.
  4. Quarantine might still be “a thing.” Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease specialist for the Cleveland Clinic, said that if a fully vaccinated person starts showing symptoms of COVID-19, they must still quarantine.
  5. As much as we are all ready to get back to traveling, it is still discouraged. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, said that high levels of travel are usually accompanied by a surge in cases. Any communal gathering space, such as an airplane, may put people even further at risk for COVID-19, including the variants that are still being studied.

RELATED: Virginia puts Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hold per CDC and FDA advice

It is also important to remember that we are still learning about the vaccine. Research is still being conducted as to how the vaccine responds to variants of the disease. The CDC reports that while early research shows that the vaccines may work against some variants, it is less effective against others.

Another thing to remember is that we don’t exactly know how long the vaccine will protect those who are considered “fully vaccinated.” In other words, studies may show that you might have to receive a booster shot at some point.

The bottom line is, even if you’re fully vaccinated, you still need to be safe. Be mindful of others, wear your mask as a precaution, continue to hand wash/sanitize, and keep your distance.

A vaccine isn’t full-proof and neither is COVID-19.

For more information, visit the CDC’s website by clicking here: Vaccines for COVID-19

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