Here Are the Do's and Don'ts of Staying Safe After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Have questions about what you should and shouldn't do after being vaccinated against COVID-19? Family medicine physician Zoe Stallings, MD, answers common vaccine questions in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
When is someone considered “fully vaccinated”?
“Fully vaccinated is when if you have received the Moderna or the Pfizer, 2 weeks after that second shot, because it's a two-part vaccine. So after the first and second in the series, we wait 2 weeks, and at that point, you're considered fully vaccinated.
“If you receive the Johnson & Johnson, it is a one shot only vaccine. 2 weeks after receiving that dose, you are considered fully vaccinated.”
Once I am fully vaccinated, what should gatherings with people outside of your household look like?
“So if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC has now reviewed the guidelines and you can be around people who are also vaccinated in small gatherings. However, if you are fully vaccinated and there are people in your household for instance, children under sixteen or people cannot receive the vaccine, those people should still wear a mask because the un-vaccinated are still at quite a high risk.”
“What we've seen with the vaccine is that most people who receive the vaccine have a very low risk of actually getting sick and even being asymptomatic carriers. So what we want patients to realize is that you can now start having small gatherings with the neighbor who's also vaccinated. If your grandmother who is 75 received the vaccine, she can receive a visit from her daughter who also received the vaccine. So we are encouraging small gatherings of people who are vaccinated.”
What about 2 households in which there are some people that are not vaccinated? Can they have small gatherings?
“So the CDC actually recommends against multiple households mixing. The reason is that it's more likely that someone in that group would be positive and asymptomatic and could spread it very quickly to others. And of course, the rules are always different for those who are highest risk, and just to review, the highest risk are those who are immunocompromised - if you're on a steroid or a long-acting medication prescribed to subvert your immune system - if you're a diabetic, a pregnant patient, a cancer patient, a dialysis patient. If you're in that special category you have a different set of risks. So we don't want you to necessarily you know, take the mask off. We want you to keep the mask on, but you can still gather with people who are vaccinated if you are high risk and vaccinated. If you are high risk in general, we don't want you in closed space, we just want to keep some distance, but you can gather small groups.”
Is a fully vaccinated person putting others at risk if they live with someone who isn't vaccinated?
“So people who are fully vaccinated and live in a household with someone who isn't, like a 14 year old or someone who couldn't take the vaccine, they're not necessarily putting them at risk. People who are fully vaccinated, the data now shows that there is very little risk of them developing moderate to severe disease, and now more data is coming out to say that they're actually quite protected. So the vaccinated person in the household is protected. The person who might be at risk would be the person who still moves around the world and is not vaccinated. So we do want you to get your vaccines if you can. If you have a reason why you cannot get it, you stay in your mask, but please discuss it with your primary care provider, read online at conehealth.com/vaccine.”
What about the do's and don'ts of meals with friends and extended family?
“So for those who are vaccinated, they're at a lower risk of transmission and also of becoming ill, so these are the people that it might be less risky for them to go out in public and consume foods at restaurants. You can gather also in the house, but let's say that your grandmother – she receives her vaccine, but your grandfather didn't. We usually say that maintain some social distance so that your grandfather might sit, you know, six feet away and that way there's a less risk for him. We also think about when you are eating, maybe moving it outside if there are some people in the household who are not vaccinated. So if you want to get together with your neighbor and there are couple people in the household, the weather is nicer now, let's move that eating event outside so you can take your masks off.”
“But if everyone is vaccinated, it is safer. Take your masks off, enjoy a meal. You still want to do proper precautions if you're eating in public: washing your hands, making sure you're using sanitary utensils to eat. But when you're mixing the vaccinated with the un- vaccinated, that's where you need a little bit more room, but the risk is still less for that the person with the vaccine.”
What are the do's and don'ts for going out in the public places?
“So we are still saying wear your mask. We're still saying wash your hands. We're still saying six feet of social distancing when possible. We're also saying not to stand around in really tightly packed places when possible. So it doesn't mean that we take our mask off and throw caution to the wind. We are still saying when you are in public spaces, you still maintain those steps for public safety. There are different strains. There are different risks. We also don't know exactly if there might be a resurgence of high numbers again, so we still have to maintain those public health guidelines.”
“So even though you got your vaccines and it's been 2 weeks or more, you still don't wanna go to the grocery store or the mall without wearing your masks. So in public, keep that on, bring hand sanitizer with you like we've always been saying. And wear a proper-fitted mask - I can't say this enough. Covering the nose and the mouth is extremely important. It should fit properly and not leave space on the sides.”