April 5, 2021 – Seeing family and friends face-to-face again may
be one of the biggest perks of getting your COVID-19 vaccine. For starters,
a few hugs likely are in order.
“The virus is still spreading,” warns
Steven F. Mosher, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician specializing in infectious
disease and member of the Southeast Georgia Health System medical staff.
“Remember, you’re not fully vaccinated until it’s been
at least two weeks since your second dose of a two-dose vaccine. So it’s
important to gather safely.”
Mosher recommends fully vaccinated individuals follow the gathering advice
offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What can you do now?
According to the CDC, people who have been fully vaccinated can gather
indoors with other people who are also fully vaccinated. And you don’t
have to wear a mask or stay six feet apart.
You can also visit unvaccinated people. But you should wear masks and keep
your distance if the person you visit or anyone they live with is at high
risk for getting sick from COVID-19.
In other good news, CDC also says it’s OK to travel within the U.S.
once you’re fully vaccinated. However, you should still wear a mask,
keep six feet from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.
What shouldn’t you do?
You should still take care not to mix too freely with more than one household
at a time. For example, you could stop in to see your unvaccinated relatives
who all live together. But if their neighbors drop by, everyone should
wear masks, keep their distance and take the gathering outside.
It’s still best to avoid crowds. Medium- or large-size gatherings
aren’t safe yet, even after you’ve been vaccinated.
Why isn’t a vaccine a free pass? It may be possible to get and spread
the virus after you’re vaccinated, even if you don’t have
symptoms. “We are still learning how well the vaccines guard against
new and more infectious virus variants,” explains Mosher. “Until
we know more about these things, it’s best to play it safe.”