If you’ve just gotten your COVID shot, you’re probably all set to ditch the mask and social distancing. But not so fast. There are some guidelines to keep in mind.
First, note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t consider you fully immunized until:
- Two weeks after the second in a 2-dose series like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
- Two weeks after a single-dose shot like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine (unavailable as of April 13)
Once you meet those guidelines, the CDC says you can:
- Meet with other fully vaccinated people mask-free in private indoor or outdoor spaces
- Meet mask-free in private settings with one household of unvaccinated people at low risk for severe disease
- Travel within the United States without getting a test before or after a trip
- Travel internationally to some locations without getting a test before or after a trip
- Travel internationally without quarantining afterward
But the CDC advises fully vaccinated people continue wearing a mask:
- In all public spaces
- At gatherings with unvaccinated people from more than one household
- Indoors with people at high risk of severe illness
- On any form of public transit
They also recommend:
- Not attending medium or large gatherings
- Monitoring for symptoms of COVID, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick
- Getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID and away from others
- Following any safety guidance from your workplace
Why? Scientists are still learning if the vaccines stop the spread of COVID. While they figure it out, preventive measures can continue slowing its spread.
Researchers are also still learning how long vaccine protection lasts. That means masking and distancing keep vaccinated people safer, too.