Life After Vaccine: Common Questions and Answers

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Can 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, wearing well-fitted masks, and maintaining physical distance (at least 6 feet / 2 meters).

If everyone from the two households is fully vaccinated, then visiting outdoors or in a private indoor setting 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 is because we don’t know enough yet about whether the vaccine prevents the spread of COVID-19 from one person to another. 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.

Can I gather with a large group if we’re all vaccinated?

Everyone should still avoid medium- or large-sized in-person gatherings – even if you’re vaccinated. If you choose to attend a large gathering, it’s important that you wear a well-fitted mask, stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart from others, and wash your hands frequently.

You should also follow any local guidance on the size of gatherings.

Once I’m vaccinated, can I resume public activities like eating at a restaurant?

The risk of getting COVID-19 during public social activities – like dining indoors at a restaurant or going to the gym – is lower for fully vaccinated people. You should still take steps to protect any high risk or unvaccinated people in these public settings and follow any local guidance on the size of gatherings.

If you’re gathering with a small group of fully vaccinated people, you do not need to wear masks or distance in private indoor settings or outdoors. But if you are gathering in a public indoor space (like a mall) or a crowded outdoor space (like a sports event), continue to wear a well-fitted mask and stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart.

What if I’m partially vaccinated?

For two-dose vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), you’re considered “partially vaccinated” if you’ve received just one dose or if two weeks haven’t yet passed since your second dose. For a one-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen), you’re considered “partially vaccinated” if two weeks haven’t yet passed since you got your shot.

While you wait to become fully vaccinated, you should continue to take precautions as if you’re not vaccinated. That means you should:

  • Wear a well-fitted mask and stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart in all public places.
  • Keep gatherings small and outdoors or indoors with the windows open.
  • Wear masks and stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart if you’re gathering with other people who are not yet vaccinated.
  • If no one in your household is at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness, you can visit without masks and physical distance with one fully vaccinated household at a time.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you’re experiencing symptoms or know you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Continue to avoid travel unless it is essential. If you do travel, get tested for COVID-19 before and after traveling and quarantine for seven days after traveling.

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

It’s unlikely, but there’s a small chance. The vaccines are very 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?

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19.

Until we know more, when you’re in public you should keep wearing a mask, staying 6 feet (2 meters) apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

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.

When can I stop wearing a mask in public?

You must keep wearing a mask in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings to protect yourself and those around you – even if you’re fully vaccinated – until the reopening guidance for your region says you can stop. Although COVID-19 vaccines are very good at preventing illness from COVID-19, we’re not yet sure how well the vaccine prevents the spread of COVID-19.

Will I need a yearly COVID-19 vaccine booster (like getting a flu shot)?

We’re still studying whether additional COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will be needed to stay protected against COVID-19 in the future.

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: