You are armed with our best weapon against a virus that has killed more than 2.6 million people worldwide and upended our lives in unimaginable ways.
That is truly something worth celebrating.
But before you toss aside your mask and throw a party, it’s important to remember that the coronavirus is still spreading and the majority of Americans have yet to be vaccinated — so precautions continue to be necessary to protect yourself and the people around you.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published some specific guidance about what the fully vaccinated can do and cannot do, and AARP has asked experts to answer other common questions about life after vaccination. Here are 10 things you should know now that you’ve been jabbed.
1. You still need to wear a mask
Even though COVID-19 cases are down from their peak in January, the coronavirus is still circulating in the U.S., and new and more contagious variants have emerged. So wearing masks and social distancing are still important in helping slow its spread until we can reach herd immunity — when an estimated 70 to 85 percent of the population is vaccinated.
“Until more of the population is vaccinated, masking is important, not just to protect yourself but also other people,” says Dr. Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health and an investigator in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
Masking will also help slow the spread of coronavirus variants — and prevent the emergence of new ones — because the virus can’t mutate if it is not spreading.
2. You could still catch COVID-19
This is the other reason experts don’t want you to put aside your mask just yet. Although all three vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. were found to be highly effective against severe disease and death from COVID-19, there’s still a chance you could get infected with the virus.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were about 95 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after two doses in clinical trials. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66.1 percent effective in multi-country clinical trials and 72 percent effective in U.S. trials.
“The whole point of a vaccine is that it prevents you from dying or ending up in the hospital,” Parikh says. “But you may still get sick.”
3. You could infect someone else
There’s also a small chance that you could get infected with the virus and not even realize it, and then you could transmit it to someone who is not vaccinated, says Kristen Marks, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine who leads COVID-19 vaccine trials.
Researchers are still studying whether the vaccines prevent the asymptomatic spread of the virus, she says; early data indicates that they likely do. But the evidence is preliminary and more research is needed.
4. You can visit friends and family
Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with others who are also fully vaccinated, without wearing masks or physical distancing if you choose, the CDC says, because the chance of anyone getting infected would be remote.
You can also spend time inside with unvaccinated people from a single household without wearing masks or physical distancing if you choose, the CDC says, as long as no one is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease and no one lives with somebody who’s at increased risk as well.
That means you can visit (and hug!) your unvaccinated children and grandchildren. What’s important, the CDC says, is to keep two unvaccinated households from mingling. The agency offers this example: If fully vaccinated grandparents are visiting with their unvaccinated daughter and her children, and the daughter’s unvaccinated neighbors also come over, the visit should then take place outdoors, with everyone wearing well-fitted masks and maintaining physical distance (at least 6 feet). This is due to the risk the two unvaccinated households pose to one another.
The CDC still recommends avoiding medium-size and large gatherings.
5. You don’t have to quarantine after exposure
You do not have to quarantine or get tested after an exposure to someone with the coronavirus, as long as you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, the CDC says. If you develop a cough, fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea or other symptoms of COVID-19, however, you should get tested.
6. You should keep your vaccine record card handy
In the future, you may need proof of vaccination to travel, work in certain industries or attend large events, Parikh says. Several other countries already have a validation system in the works, and a number of private companies in the U.S. are working on creating a digital passport that would include your vaccination status. “Obviously, your vaccine card is your main proof right now,” Parikh adds.
Your card may also come in handy to confirm which vaccine you received, and when you received it, if a booster dose is required. Some people are laminating their cards; another way to preserve it is to take a photo and store it on your phone. If you didn’t hang on to your card, the provider that administered your vaccine should have an electronic or paper record of it.
7. Travel is still discouraged
Even though the number of airline passengers has been rising, the CDC continues to recommend against travel, even for those who are vaccinated. In explaining the decision on March 8, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said:
“In terms of travel, here’s what we know: Every time that there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country. We know that many of our variants have emerged from international places, and we know that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot. We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time, and we’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.”
8. It’s a good time to go to the doctor or dentist
Countless Americans put their health care on hold due to the pandemic. Now that you’re vaccinated, it’s time to schedule that colonoscopy, dental cleaning or elective surgery you’ve been putting off. “Being vaccinated, now is the safest it has been to have surgery in well over a year,” says Dr. Beverly Philip, M.D., president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
The only screening you may want to hold off getting right away is your mammogram. Many women develop swelling in the lymph nodes in their underarm after vaccination, the CDC says. Although the swelling is a normal sign that your body is building protection to the coronavirus, it could cause a false mammogram reading. For that reason, some experts recommend waiting four to six weeks after you are fully vaccinated to get a mammogram.
9. You may need a booster shot
Marks says there are two reasons we might need a booster shot: If our immunity wears off naturally or if the virus changes so much that the immunity, we have from the current vaccines proves inadequate.
Researchers still don’t know how long immunity from the vaccines will last. “We’re collecting data,” Marks says. “The phase 3 trials only started last summer, and the data lags a few weeks behind that.”
The current vaccines should provide some protection against the coronavirus variants circulating right now. But a few contain a mutation that may allow the virus to elude some of the antibodies produced through vaccines. The vaccine manufacturers are working to create booster shots or updated versions of their shots to improve protection against those variants.
Chances are that we will have to get some kind of COVID-19 shot on a regular basis, perhaps once every three years or every year, like the flu shot.
10. A return to normal hinges on herd immunity
Before life can get totally back to normal, experts say that first we need to reach herd immunity — when enough Americans are vaccinated to significantly slow the spread of the virus. Estimates of when we will reach that point range from this summer to early 2022.
“I’m very optimistic about summertime, when rates will naturally reduce and the number of people we’ve been able to vaccinate will make it so that the virus is not being transmitted as quickly,” Marks said. “The wild card is the variants.”
Factors that will affect that timeline include the percentage of Americans willing to get the vaccine, how quickly a vaccine for children is authorized and how well the vaccines work against more contagious variants of the virus.
Study: 4th Covid vaccine dose effective in protecting people over 60
As per the new Israeli-led study, the largest healthcare organisation Clalit said fourth dose of Covid vaccine is effective for protecting people aged 60 and above.
The study found that a fourth dose can reduce the possibilities of symptomatic infection, hospitalisation, serious illness and mortality among the elders, Clalit said, Xinhua news agency reported.
In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Clalit researchers and their colleagues from Harvard University in Boston analysed data from 182,122 Clalit members, all aged 60 and above, who received Pfizer’s fourth dose.
“The study unequivocally demonstrates that the fourth dose provides effective protection in preventing morbidity,” said Ran Balicer, Director of the Clalit Research Institute.
“It will help every person to make a decision on the fourth vaccine based on their level of personal risk,” he added.
Covid-19: Here are the symptoms of fourth wave
covid-19 pandemic. BA.2 has two characteristics – they are dizziness and extreme tiredness. BA.2 sub-variant or stealth omicron affects more on the stomach and intestines of the people, which leads to digestive problems. there is currently no evidence that people can catch covid-19 from food. the virus that causes covid-19 can be killed at temperatures similar to that of other known viruses and bacteria found in food.
Symptoms of Omicron:
- Continuous Cough
- Muscle and body health
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Skin rash
- Sleeping paralysis
- Back pain
- A loss of appetite
- High temperature
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Covid toes or figures
- Covid tongue
- Night sweats
- Hoarse voice
- New loss of taste and smell
- Congestion or running nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Covid-19: WHO shares post COVID symptoms
In the third year of pandemic, it is not just a fight against COVID, we have another challenge ahead of us i.e. dealing with post-COVID conditions. They are also known as long COVID conditions. With the growing number of cases of long COVID it is confirmed that COVID does not spare any body organ and it affects the biological ecosystem. Fatigue, trouble in breathing and cognitive dysfunction is the most common symptoms.
Fatigue: It is very common response from the body when fighting against any viral infection. It may last for weeks and it is very common symptom seen in all the patients who recovered from COVID.
Trouble in breathing: Even with the minimal physical activity person may have trouble in breathing. It is very common occurrence in the people who have been infected with COVID.
Cognitive dysfunction: It is commonly referred as brain fog. It actually means people having trouble with their attention, trouble in concentrating, trouble in recall or memory, trouble in sleeping.
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