Life After Vaccine: Common Questions and Answers

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Should vaccinated and unvaccinated people from different households visit each other?

It depends. If one of the households has people at high-risk of severe COVID-19 illness, then you should visit outdoors or indoors with the windows open and maintain physical distance (at least 6 feet / 2 meters).

If the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated household does not have any high-risk individuals, then visiting outdoors or in a private indoor setting with one fully vaccinated household without anyone wearing masks is a low risk of spreading COVID-19.

What if my household has people who are fully vaccinated and others who aren’t?

If only some people in your household are fully vaccinated, you should take precautions as if your household is unvaccinated. This means you should wear masks and stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart when visiting with people from other partially or unvaccinated households – and avoid those gatherings if possible.

You can visit with people from one fully-vaccinated household at a time as long as no one in your household is at risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Will I need to show proof of vaccination?

You may need to prove you’re vaccinated against COVID-19 in certain areas or at certain businesses and events. So treat your vaccination paper card like a birth certificate or other official document! Take a photo of it and then store it at home. Read more about vaccination cards and immunization records.

Can I still get sick from COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated?

Yes, there is still a possibility. The vaccines are effective, but not 100%. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms, you should stay away from others and contact a health care provider. They may recommend a COVID-19 test.

Can I spread COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated?

Infections happen to a smaller proportion of people who are fully vaccinated and have received their booster shot. However, people who are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines who do become infected with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others.

What should I do if I have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’re fully vaccinated and have also received your booster ("up to date"), you do not need to quarantine, but you should wear a mask for 10 days following exposure and test for COVID-19 at day 5 after exposure. If it’s been 6 months or more (Moderna/Pfizer) or 2 months or more (Johnson & Johnson) since completing your primary vaccine series, and you have not yet received a booster dose, you must quarantine for 5 days, followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Everyone should get tested at day 5 after exposure, regardless of vaccination status.

How do I know whether I’m experiencing vaccine side effects or I’m sick?

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you may have some side effects. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19. Your arm may hurt where you got your shot or you may have redness or swelling. You may be tired or have a headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea. They may affect your ability to do daily activities but should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects. Learn more about possible side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

If the symptoms do not go away after a few days, or you have COVID-19-like symptoms several days or more after getting the vaccine, it’s important to stay away from others and contact a health care provider for evaluation. They may recommend a COVID-19 test.

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

Yes, the CDC recommends everyone 12 and older gets their booster when they become eligible. You should put a reminder on your calendar to get a booster dose when you become eligible: five months after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, please visit our “Vaccine Booster Doses” page.

The CDC recommends that immunocompromised individuals who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine get an additional (third) dose. If this applies to you, talk to your health care provider.

How can I manage stress and anxiety around COVID-19?

We understand that the pandemic can affect both your physical and mental health. You are not alone. Many people in Washington are dealing with stress and anxiety related to financial and employment distress, school closures, social isolation, health concerns, grief and loss, and more – not to mention the added anxiety that can come with returning to public activities and the “new normal.”

Here are a few resources that can help manage your stress and anxiety: