Even if you have had your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, experts say you are still not out of the woods. You need to follow safety precautions to protect yourself and those around you.
According to CNN, the most common question people ask is if they still need to wear a face mask. The answer is overwhelmingly yes, say experts. Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease expert at the University of Michigan, stated that people who are vaccinated may still infect others.
“You have to wear your mask,” he said. “The clinical trials of the vaccine candidates only tracked those individuals who developed COVID-19 symptoms but since 40% of people are asymptomatic, you could still have the virus in your nose and infect others,” said Cinti. The vaccines are 95% effective, so there is a 5% chance that even if you have been vaccinated, you can contract COVID-19.
Another reason to stay covered up is that some people may not respond to the vaccine as efficiently and effectively as others, says CNN. Dr. Peter J. Hotez, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said that several people in clinical trials of the vaccines had no response at all from the first dose. “So, the major reason for the second dose is to get everybody to respond,” he said.
Also, the variants that are plaguing many countries and have threatened to cause a new surge here in the U.S., may not be affected by the vaccines. Experts are particularly concerned about the South African mutation and worry that our current vaccines may not neutralize the virus. We also do not know how long immunity will last, so wearing masks may be an essential part of our wardrobe for some time.
“Given the current limited information on how well the vaccine works in the general population, vaccinated persons should continue to protect themselves and others,” said CDC’s Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi in a previous CNN interview.
People are wondering when it will be safe to gather with friends and family. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of Health Policy at the George Washington University, told CNN that it “probably would be safe to see others who were also vaccinated, after everyone gets two doses and waits a few weeks.” As always, outdoor gatherings are safer than meeting indoors, Wen added, and even if you have been vaccinated wear a mask and practice social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.
Eating in restaurants or attending concerts and sporting events should be carefully evaluated. Experts told CNN that poorly ventilated places are still hotspots for the virus so indoor restaurants pose health hazards. However, Wen said that if you have been vaccinated, going to “an outdoor sporting event or concert is probably safe, if there is good social distancing between households and everyone is wearing masks.”
Many Americans put traveling on hold during the pandemic and getting vaccinated will not give you a passport to travel.
“Getting vaccinated does not say now I have a free pass to travel,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, said in a CNN global town hall last week. “Nor does it say that I have a free pass to put aside all of the public health measures that we talk about all the time.”
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