What Can You and Cannot Do Once You Are Fully Vaccinated? Read This

After an entire year of battling the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. This light is coming in the form of a mass vaccination effort. Signaling to the nation that there is hope on the horizon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines this week regarding what you can and cannot do once you are fully vaccinated.

What Does it Mean to be Fully Vaccinated?


Before you understand the full scope of the new guidance, you need to know how the CDC defines being fully vaccinated. You do not enjoy the full effects of the immunity until you are at least two weeks out from your final shot. Those people receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not need to return for a second shot. However, those individuals receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will need to return two to three weeks later to receive the second dose. Because it takes time for the antibodies to build within you, you are not considered to be protected until two weeks after the final dose.

CDC New Guidance


Earlier in the week, the CDC released a series of much-anticipated guidelines for those individuals now fully vaccinated. The most welcome news for many is that the CDC said it is now considered safe to visit with other vaccinated people without having to wear masks. The CDC also gave the green light to vaccinated people to spend time with unvaccinated people who are considered to be low-risk. 

Biden administration COVID-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt said that the CDC will continue to update its guidance as more Americans become vaccinated. The next set of recommendations is expected when the country reaches a benchmark of 20 to 30% of the population vaccinated.

Precautions Still in Place

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cautioned vaccinated individuals that they still need to take some precautions when spending time with others. Chief among these precautions is wearing a mask around unvaccinated individuals and practicing the recommended social distancing measures when spending time with unvaccinated people hailing from multiple households. Walensky also said that vaccinated people should seek a COVID-19 test if they are experiencing symptoms congruent with the illness.

No Green Light for Travel

Despite the growing sense of optimism about what vaccinated people can begin to do in this new world, the CDC is taking heat for advising that they should still avoid non-essential travel. Walensky is defending the decision to keep travel to a minimum by saying that 90% of the nation is still not fully vaccinated. In response to the new guidelines, the airline industry is pushing back on the CDC. Leading industry group Airlines For America released a statement insisting that air travel presents a low risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Latest Vaccination Numbers:


While the news of a surge of new vaccinations is certainly something to be excited about, it is still important to remember that there are only slightly over 32 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated, representing less than 10% of the total population. Over 60 million have at least received the first dose. With the sharp uptick in production of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the news is only going to get better. The number of vaccinated people in the US is now eclipsing the total number of new COVID-19 cases each day, proving that the nation is finally beginning to turn the corner. 

Experts Caution About Opening Too Early

According to most health experts, the promise of a significant surge in the vaccination efforts is being somewhat negated by states acting too quickly to loosen the restrictions. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted his state's mask mandate on Wednesday while also giving the go-ahead for businesses to open at full capacity. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon joined Abbott in lifting the mask mandates in their states.

Experts such as Walensky caution that Americans need to hold on just a bit longer before everyone begins to return to life as it was prior to the pandemic. It is only a matter of time before every eligible adult can receive a coveted vaccine. Until then, it is prudent to proceed with caution.

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