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What You Can — and Can’t — Do After Getting the COVID Vaccine

child and older man wearing masks and elbow-bumping

If you’ve gotten both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you may be making plans to see family and friends. But there are some important things to keep in mind.

Remember that your vaccine protects only you. Your family and friends who aren't yet vaccinated are still at risk for COVID-19. You also won't be fully protected until a few weeks after you get your second dose.

"Do I Still Need to Socially Distance?" COVID Vaccine FAQs

Here are answers to common questions about what to expect after getting vaccinated.

COVID-19 Vaccines in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Health is managing vaccine distribution.

When will I be protected after getting the COVID vaccine?

The vaccines currently available are given in two doses, three or four weeks apart. For the highest protection, you’ll need both doses. A few weeks after the second dose, you should have an approximately 95% chance of avoiding serious illness from COVID-19.

I'm vaccinated. Is it safe for me to be around people who haven’t been vaccinated?

Not necessarily. Even though the vaccines are very effective, a small percentage of people may still get sick.

Also, researchers don't know yet if the vaccines stop people with no symptoms from spreading the virus.

The safest way to spend time with people who don’t live with you is still by phone and video conferencing. Another option might be to meet outdoors while wearing masks and staying at least six feet apart.

Can anything be done to make indoor visits safer?

There’s no risk-free way to spend time indoors with people from other households until everyone is vaccinated. But with careful planning, you can reduce the risk.

If you’re traveling, experts recommend getting tested and quarantining for 14 days once you get to your destination. During your visit, wear masks, keep your distance, wash hands often, and open windows or doors to let in fresh air.

When will it be safe to be around people from different households?

To put an end to the pandemic, we need to achieve herd immunity. This happens when enough people build up immunity that the virus struggles to spread.

Researchers don't know the exact percentage of the population that needs to become immune to COVID-19. But they say it may be as high as 70-90%.

Public health experts expect the vaccine to become more widely available in the spring or summer. Hopefully most adults will be vaccinated by later this year. (The vaccine is not yet approved for children under age 16.)

In the meantime, continue to wear masks, social distance, and wash hands often even if you've been vaccinated.

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Tags: coronavirus

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