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I Got the COVID-19 Vaccine – What Next?

Published on May 06, 2021

After months of social distancing, pausing things we love, and other necessary precautions to help slow the spread, another important tool arrived to keep us from getting severely sick: the vaccine. If you’re one of the nearly 100 million Americans who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, you may be wondering, “What’s next?” Being fully vaccinated means you can now enjoy many activities without a mask. But first…

Are You Fully Vaccinated?

You are considered fully vaccinated once one of the following criteria are met:

  • 2 weeks after your second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines


  • 2 weeks after Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen single-dose vaccine

If you have not yet met one of these requirements, the vaccine needs more time to sufficiently help your immune system build protection against COVID-19. We advise taking all the proven COVID-19 precautions until you’re fully vaccinated, like mask wearing, handwashing, and social distancing.

Do You Have a Weakened Immune System?

If you are immunocompromised due to a condition or certain medications that weaken your immune system, please talk to your healthcare provider about continuing to take all precautions even after you’re fully vaccinated. Those who are immunocompromised include:

  • People with an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or Hashimoto thyroiditis
  • Patients being treated with immunosuppressive medication
  • Adults 60 years and older
  • Smokers

Activities Fully Vaccinated People Can Now Enjoy

Indoor gatherings. Enjoy indoor gatherings and even public spaces that don’t require a mask for fully vaccinated people, if you feel comfortable.

Outdoor Activities. Bask in the sunshine, go for a run or walk, and participate in any other favorite outdoor activity without your mask.

Domestic Travel. If you’d like to take a trip within the United States, there is no need to get tested or self-quarantine before you leave or after you return.

International Travel. Traveling to another country? You don’t need to take a COVID-19 test before leaving the United States (unless your destination instructs otherwise). However, a negative test result or documentation of recovery is needed prior to boarding for your return flight home. Next, the CDC recommends testing another 3-5 days following your trip. Self-quarantine is not needed unless you’ve been around someone with COVID-19 AND you have symptoms.

When and Why to Keep Using Your Other COVID-19 Tools

Scientists and medical experts are still researching many factors such as 1) the efficacy of the vaccine in people with compromised immune systems, and 2) how long the vaccine provides protection. Until more is known, it’s important to use our other proven tools to prevent the spread, whether or not you’re fully vaccinated.

Continue to mask up and/or socially distance the following situations:

  • If you feel COVID-19 symptoms and haven’t yet received a negative test result
  • While traveling via public transportation, such as plane or bus
  • If you are immune-compromised or take medication that weakens your immune system (talk to your doctor first) · You feel better practicing extra caution around others who aren’t yet vaccinated
  • You are not yet comfortable going maskless

Questions? Talk to a nurse for free! Our Ask-A-Nurse line is available 24 hours a day. Call 231-935-0951.

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