It’s the question everyone has the moment they feel that vaccine needle pierce the skin. “When can I get back out and do stuff again?”
Well, my friend, as you’ve probably figured out by now, you can’t just bounce right out of your COVID-19 vaccine appointment and into a crowded pub. It takes a little while for your immune system to start cranking out those protective antibodies.
But if you flip on the TV or go online right now, you’re likely going to walk away thinking the answer is, “Never.” And you may be wondering why the heck we are even getting vaccinated in the first place.
It’s wall-to-wall gloom and doom. The message is the sky is STILL falling. You’ll never be safe no matter how many times you roll up your sleeve. In fact, I read one report by a so-called expert that said we shouldn’t assume we’re protected from the virus even weeks after the second dose of vaccine.
Well, it’s time to chuck the Chicken Little act and let a little light in. Today I want to give you some REAL answers about what you can do and when you can do it.
The truth about COVID-19 vaccine protection
The CDCs latest guidance (it keeps changing) suggests you’re not protected until at least two weeks after your second shot. That, they say, is when you can dump the masks in private settings with small groups of other vaccinated folks.
Until then, it appears they want us to continue to hole up like hermits. But the reality is you already had a HEFTY dose of protection on board two weeks after your FIRST vaccine shot.
It’s true you shouldn’t shed your mask in public just yet for a couple of different reasons (more on those in a moment). But it’s also true that the best science shows your risk has ALREADY plunged.
One study found 80 percent efficacy for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at that point. And an analysis by New York Magazine found “no statistical evidence” that waiting from that point until two weeks after the second dose (nearly an extra month) will deliver any meaningful difference.
When to start using your vaccination “hall pass”
To be clear, you will never be 100 percent protected from the coronavirus even weeks after the second vaccine shot. Plus, we don’t know much about the variants yet, and there’s still a chance we could carry the virus to unvaccinated folks without ever getting sick ourselves.
So the shots aren’t a total get-out-of-jail-free card. But starting two weeks after the first one, they ARE a hall pass of sorts.
If you’ve reached the two-week mark after your first vaccine dose, you should feel free to engage in more low-risk activities… such as shopping and outdoor dining… knowing your risk has plummeted. Just don’t forget your mask and your common sense.
Of course, you DO still need to get the second dose of vaccine for maximum protection and to ensure your antibody levels continue to climb. The second dose may even give you some protection from the variants you may not get from a single shot.
And if you’ve been hoping to travel to see loved ones again, plan it for when you… and they…have MAXIMUM protection. And that, of course, is at least two weeks after that second dose.
For more on traveling after the COVID-19 vaccine, see my recent report here.