Medical City Healthcare - March 17, 2021
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With the numbers of vaccinated people increasing daily, it's natural to wonder what happens next. Now that you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, what can you do that you couldn't before? What should you do to continue to help protect yourself and others from coronavirus exposure? Read on for the answers to those questions, including 5 reasons to wear a mask after you're fully vaccinated.

Are you fully vaccinated?

According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine

You are not fully protected if it's been less than two weeks since your shot or if you still need a second dose. Continue with all prevention measures until you're fully vaccinated.

When you're fully vaccinated, what can you do?

People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some of the things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. However, because research on the virus and the vaccine are still ongoing, the CDC says that fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in public places, including:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Social distancing—6 feet apart
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

If you're fully vaccinated, you can:

  • Gather indoors without masks, with:

Not have to quarantine if you've been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, unless you develop symptoms

5 reasons to continue wearing a mask in public after you're fully vaccinated.

Although you may be tempted to ditch your mask after becoming fully vaccinated, you may want to consider these 5 reasons to keep wearing it.

  • No vaccine is 100% effective
    • While large clinical trials showed that two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines prevented 95% of illnesses caused by coronavirus, that still leaves 1 in 20 people unprotected.
  • No vaccine offers immediate protection
    • After receiving a vaccine, our immune systems require about 2 weeks to produce antibodies that block viral infections. The 2-dose COVID vaccines take even longer because of the time between shots. You won't be fully protected until 5 or 6 weeks after your first shot.
  • It is unknown whether the vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus
    • Most vaccines, including flu shots, prevent you from becoming sick but not from becoming infected or passing the virus to others. While it's clear that COVID vaccines prevent illness, researchers are still studying whether they prevent transmission, too.
  • Masks help protect people with compromised immune systems
    • People with weakened immune systems, such as those with cancer, are at particular risk from COVID. Studies show they're more likely than others to become infected and die from the virus, and may not be protected by vaccines.
  • Masks protect against all coronavirus strains, regardless of genetic mutations
    • Although studies suggest vaccines will still work against these new strains, global health leaders are extremely concerned about new genetic variants of the coronavirus, which appear to be at least 50% more contagious than the original.

If you're still on the fence, consider this: Masks are responsible for a dramatic drop in the number of flu cases worldwide and they can help protect you from seasonal allergies by filtering out pollen.

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