Posted by Solv, May 04, 2021 (last updated on May 14, 2021)
UPDATE: On May 14, 2021, the CDC updated mask guidelines. If you are fully vaccinated, you can result normal activities - both indoor and outdoor - without wearing a mask or social distancing, except where required by local regulations, including business and workplace guidance.
Vaccines are here, bringing with them hopes of a move towards normalcy in the United States. Nearly a third of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated already, with 45% of the population receiving at least one dose before the end of April.
As COVID-19 cases continue to drop as more of us get vaccinated in the United States, it's important to understand what the next few months will look like. What can fully vaccinated people do safely this spring and summer? What activities should we remain cautious about doing, even post-vaccine? Read on for tips from the experts, and please keep that mask handy.
Not yet vaccinated? Find a vaccine near you →
What can I do after the vaccine?
Once you’re fully vaccinated, the CDC says, you can safely return to many of your pre-pandemic activities, like attending indoor social gatherings or visiting the hair salon, without a mask.
Being vaccinated is a huge relief, but it doesn’t mean life will immediately snap back to your pre-pandemic normal. According to the CDC, there are still precautions even fully vaccinated people should adhere to.
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
The CDC considers you fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or 2 weeks after your first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. While you may have partial immunity before then, it’s important to wait the full 14 days after your final dose before attempting any post-vaccine activities (like gathering with fully vaccinated friends.)
Do I still have to wear a mask after I’m vaccinated?
After you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask around other people unless required by your local government. You can also skip a mask if you’re visiting friends or family members who haven’t been vaccinated yet. You should still mask up at local businesses, like many grocery stores and other retailers, who ask their shoppers to wear one.
Do I have to wear a mask outdoors post-vaccine?
You don’t need to wear a mask outdoors, unless you’re in a crowded space like a busy sports venue or packed concert. Enjoy that fresh air!
Do I still need to wear a mask at the grocery store or in other public spaces?
According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in public to protect themselves or others. Many local governments still require masks in public, though, so be respectful of your area’s rules. Local businesses like grocery stores and gyms can also ask you to wear a mask, so it’s a good idea to keep one on hand. Stay home if you’re feeling sick, and get a COVID test if you’re experiencing symptoms. While the vaccine is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, infection can still occur in very rare circumstances.
Can I gather in groups with unvaccinated people after the vaccine?
Yes! After you’re fully vaccinated, it’s safe to socialize with others, unmasked and indoors, even if they’re not yet vaccinated. All US adults are now eligible for the vaccine, so encourage your friends and family to get theirs, too. Find a vaccine near you.
Will summer camps be safe for kids this year?
Summer 2021 won’t be back to our pre-pandemic normal, but it’ll be much safer and less restrictive than summer 2020. The CDC recently released new guidelines for summer camps with a layered safety approach that includes vaccinations, social distancing, and masking.
Look for summer camps that are following CDC recommendations, including dividing kids into “cohorts” or pods, with kids interacting only in small groups. Further, make sure your summer camp’s adult staff is fully vaccinated and that they have symptom screening, testing, and isolation procedures in place. The more safety precautions a camp takes, the better they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 among children.
Can I travel after I’m fully vaccinated?
Yes, as long as you follow the CDC travel guidelines and the requirements of your destination.
Traveling domestically is the safest option. Masks are still required on all public transportation, including planes, buses, and trains, even if you’re fully vaccinated.
Traveling internationally poses a much higher risk than traveling domestically, since most countries’ vaccine rollouts aren’t progressing as quickly as in the United States. Check the status of your destination against the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations and delay nonessential travel if you can.
If you do choose to travel, you should continue to wear a mask if required by the destinations you are traveling to, wash your hands, and monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. If you’re feeling sick with symptoms of COVID-19, even if you’re fully vaccinated, postpone your trip until you’re feeling better or get a negative COVID test.
Do I need a COVID-19 test before traveling post-vaccine?
Fully vaccinated travelers do not need a COVID-19 test before traveling, unless one is required by your destination or transportation provider. You don’t need to quarantine after arriving back home, either, even if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. (If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, though, you should still get tested.)
Will the vaccines be effective against new variants of COVID-19?
Current evidence suggests that all 3 FDA-approved vaccines are effective against new COVID variants, which means vaccines can help prevent the spread of new strains. Scientists are still studying the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines, including how long fully vaccinated people are protected from COVID. All vaccines are safe and effective.
I was exposed to COVID-19 after I was fully vaccinated. Do I still need to isolate?
If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine after a known exposure unless you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The only exception is if you work or live in a high risk environment like a nursing home. Then, it’s a good idea to get tested after an exposure and avoid unvaccinated people until you get your results.
Where can I find a vaccine for myself or an unvaccinated friend or family member?
All US adults and those ages 12+ are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The faster you get yours, the faster we can all get back to normal. Use Solv’s Vaccine Finder to book a vaccine appointment near you.
How is the US vaccine rollout going?
As of April 27, nearly a third of the total US population is fully vaccinated, with 43% of the population (142 million Americans) receiving at least one dose. 68 percent of Americans 65 years of age and older are fully vaccinated, with 82 percent receiving at least one dose. View the latest numbers, including state-by-state progress and number of doses administered so far, on the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.
I’m fully vaccinated but experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Do I need a COVID test?
Yes. Vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19, but it’s still possible (though rare) to contract the virus and potentially pass it on to others — even after you’re fully vaccinated. If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, find a COVID test near you.
Questions about vaccines and navigating post-vaccination life? Check out Solv’s COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center →
- Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People (CDC)
- When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated: How to Protect Yourself and Others (CDC)
- Travel Guidelines for Domestic Travel (CDC)
- Travel Guidelines for International Travel (CDC)
- COVID Data Tracker (CDC)
- Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19 (CDC)