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I’ve had my COVID-19 vaccine: Now what?

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If you are a member of the population that has been vaccinated, there are a few important reminders about vaccine protection and what that means. As more of the US population becomes vaccinated, there are benefits for everyone, but also some caveats.

Just because you have been vaccinated, that does not reduce your social responsibilities. You should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.  You would not want to engage in activities where you could acquire the novel coronavirus and then transmit it to another person.  Being around other people who are fully vaccinated is likely safer than before, but even other vaccinated people can pass it to you.  

The vaccine is 95% percent effective, but not 100%, so this means you can still get the virus, but hopefully experience a much less severe illness.  You will start to build immunity about 7 days after the first dose and reach peak immunity at around 2 weeks after the second dose. In terms of side effects, there can be a range but for the most part the side effect profile has shown that the vaccine is safe. We don’t have long term data since the vaccine has not been out long enough, but the CDC is gathering data rapidly as millions of doses are given. This will prove invaluable information over the next 12 months. 

Many may still ask, is it now safe to see our friends indoors?  For the time being, masks are here to stay, and outdoor gatherings remain the much safer option.  Even after we reach herd immunity, which is around 70-75% of the population being vaccinated, the CDC may still recommend wearing masks when in public.  We all hope the vaccine will be a natural end point to the pandemic and it certainly is a huge step in that direction, but there is still a need to take precautions especially if you are in a high-risk group. 

The US is making tremendous progress with vaccine distribution. Just last week there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Fauci at the NIH states, “we can perhaps return some sense of normally at the end of summer.” He is one of our best scientists so I certainly find some comfort in his words.

Prerana Sangani, MD, February 10, 2021