PHILADELPHIA — Getting vaccinated comes as a huge relief. You finally have physical protection against a virus that has haunted us for over a year.
Naturally, you're probably thinking about what you're going to do first. Once two weeks have passed following your second dose (or one Johnson & Johnson dose), you're considered fully vaccinated.
At this point, what activities are considered 'safe' to resume?
While the current COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, no vaccine is perfect, and there are still millions of people who have yet to get their shots. This makes the answers to questions about risk often complex.
The good news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already started releasing some post-vaccination guidance and is expected to continue to expand on this front. So far, they've declared it's safe to hang out with other vaccinated people once you're fully vaccinated. They've also declared it "low risk" to travel domestically once fully vaccinated. But what about things like going to the gym, the movies, or an outdoor ballgame? Is it really safe to get on an airplane right now?
"With most activities, you're expanding your bubble, and that's the whole point of being vaccinated. But we're seeing variants that have more transmissibility — it takes less virus to get sick, and we're seeing this in children now, too," says Meenakshi Bewtra, a Penn Medicine physician and an assistant professor of epidemiology and of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "So you want to think about who could be in that other bubble, including those who may be unvaccinated and considered high risk, and also the fact that although these vaccines are very effective, there's still the small chance you could get infected."
How to assess risk after getting the vaccine
There are a ton of factors that play a role in assessing risk for every situation, and experts don’t all agree on exact risk levels for each post-vaccine activity. But there are two areas that generally aren’t debated:
1. You’re in a safer position once fully vaccinated.