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.
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By Dustin Butler • [email protected]