Submitted by the Whatcom County Health Department

Congrats! You are fully vaccinated! Here’s what you need to know:

What does ‘fully vaccinated’ mean?

You are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Even though you are fully vaccinated, you should keep up your COVID-19 prevention habits to protect yourself and others, especially in public settings and when in close contact with those you don’t live with. We are still learning about how effective the vaccines are at preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others. 

How long does immunity last?

We are still learning how long protection lasts for those who are fully vaccinated. The CDC is working to learn more about both natural immunity (for people who have had COVID-19) and immunity that comes from getting the vaccine.

This is one reason why it’s still important to maintain COVID-19-safe behaviors like washing hands, maintaining distance, and limiting the size of gatherings. 

Can I hang out with my friends and family now?

We know this is something many of us are looking forward to. When it comes to gathering, here are the latest CDC recommendations for vaccinated people:

  • You can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. For example, you can visit with relatives who all live together if no one has an increased risk.

Can I travel?

Even if you are fully vaccinated, it is still safest to delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.

Can I still get COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated? 

Yes, it is possible to still be infected with COVID-19 if you are fully vaccinated. That’s true for all vaccines, though the chances are usually small.

If you are fully vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate just as an unvaccinated person would need to do. This means you must:

  • Isolate for at least 10 days after a positive test day (if you don’t have any symptoms) or for at least 10 days from the time your symptoms started.  

In order to end your isolation period:

  • You must have no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • Your other symptoms must be improving.

If you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

I’m vaccinated, but was in close contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do? 

If you are fully vaccinated and come into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine as long as you remain asymptomatic.

If you are fully vaccinated and develop symptoms (cough, fever, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath) within 14 days after close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to isolate and get tested for COVID-19. If you develop symptoms of COVID, you should manage your illness in the same way an unvaccinated person’s symptoms are managed. This includes staying isolated from others and staying home from work. Contact your healthcare provider if you need help managing your symptoms.

Even though the vaccines against COVID-19 are very effective, no vaccine is 100% effective. A vaccinated person who tests positive or develops COVID symptoms may still be capable of spreading it to others.

Featured photo courtesy Unity Care NW

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