Health experts explain vaccine guidelines

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Latest

As more and more Texans are vacci­nated, many wonder what activities they should and shouldn’t do.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists are still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. They recommend continuing to wear masks, using 6-foot social distance and avoiding crowds un­til more information is available.

An individual is considered fully vac­cinated two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

According to the CDC guidelines, ful­ly vaccinated individuals can visit oth­er fully vaccinated individuals indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart. They can also visit unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone is at low risk for severe disease.

Fully vaccinated individuals may re­frain from quarantine and testing if they show no symptoms after contact with someone who has COVID-19.

The CDC does recommend fully vaccinated individuals continue to take COVID-19 precautions when in pub­lic, when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple other households or when around unvaccinated people who are at high risk of getting severely ill.

Infectious disease expert, Dr. Greg­ory Poland of the Mayo Clinic, said the guidelines indicate a range of risks, but it is also the first step toward normalcy. Poland added the guidelines are an effort to balance the value of social interac­tion and efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19.

“The basic idea here in these interim rec­ommendations is that fully vaccinated peo­ple have a very small risk of transmitting the virus to someone else,” Poland said.

The guidelines are also born of access­ing risk in non-vaccinated individuals one might be in contact with, says Poland. He added that they are a step toward decreas­ing the current CDC recommendations.

The expert said there are some limita­tions to the recommendations.

“We don’t yet know the durability of protection for those who have been vac­cinated,” Poland said.

It is unsure at this time how long the immunity will last. Experts say only time and research will tell, but some are inclined to believe that COVID-19 vac­cinations will be a recurring event. Both Pfizer and Moderna recently announced research into a third booster shot target­ing the various COVID-19 variants that have emerged.

Poland stressed considering individual circumstances before breaking from the current CDC recommendations. Some people may not want to divulge their private information, such as a high-risk medical condition, before visiting anoth­er household.

“It would be in your interest to do so be­cause then we would all wear masks,” Po­land said. “But that is private information.”

The CDC recently updated travel guidelines for fully vaccinated individ­uals for both international and domestic travel. Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread the virus, but in­ternational does still pose a threat. The CDC recommends delaying international travel until fully vaccinated and testing three to five days after returning.

Travelers do not need to get tested before leaving – unless the destination requires – nor does a traveler need to self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.

The CDC continues to recommend face masks and 6-feet social distance for both international and domestic travel and self-monitor for symptoms after travel.

After vaccination, individuals are encouraged to register in V-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after re­ceiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information, visit cdc.gov/ coronavirus.

For more stories like this, see the Apr. 8 issue or subscribe online.

By Dustin Butler [email protected]

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