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What is it safe to do after you’ve gotten your first COVID vaccine?

what is it safe to do after the first vaccine
Photo via Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Millions of relieved Americans are receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations every day. It takes two weeks after the second dose—or two weeks from your first and only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine—before full vaccination is reached, but a single dose does offer a certain degree of protection. This has people wondering what activities they can do after getting their first dose of vaccine. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that a single dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is 80% effective at preventing infection two weeks after it is administered, even without a second shot. Experts continue to stress the necessity of following up with your second dose of vaccine.

When asked about the efficacy of a single dose during an April 5 White House press briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made it clear that people shouldn’t take that percentage at face value.

“We have been concerned, and still are, that when you look at the level of protection after one dose, you can say it’s 80%, but it is somewhat of a tenuous 80%,” Fauci said. When it comes to neutralizing antibodies against COVID-19, Fauci explained that “when you just leave it at one dose, the question is: ‘How long does it last?’”

Fauci and other experts agree that people who have received just one jab of the mRNA vaccines shouldn’t expect to change their behavior until after getting the second. You may be able to ease up on double-masking at the grocery store, but it’s best to wait until you are fully vaccinated before visiting family or dining out at a restaurant.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, told NBC News that people should “sit tight” until they have completed their vaccination series.

“It just frightens me that we have, in any sense, put out there the notion that [Pfizer and Moderna] are anything other than a two-dose vaccine,” Offit said. “The best reason to wait for that second dose is you want to get durable immunity.”

Immunologists still don’t know how long immunity will last, even after a person receives two mRNA doses. It’s entirely possible that COVID-19 vaccines could become an annual thing, similar to the flu shot. Experts are stressing the need to avoid unnecessary risks between getting their first COVID vaccine and their second.

After you get the vaccine, is it safe to …

Sources: NBC News, National Geographic, White House, CDC


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