What Can (And Can't) You Do Once You've Received the COVID-19 Vaccine?

April 15, 2021
grandparent vaccinated

Once you’ve gotten your COVID-19 vaccine, when is it safe to venture out -- and what can and can’t you do?


Paul Kamitsuka, MD, DTM&H, recommends following the CDC guidelines, which can be found here. He also suggests checking back often: With more people getting vaccinated every day, the recommendations will change regularly. 


When am I fully vaccinated?

You’re fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of the two-dose vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson, according to the CDC.


You can find answers to many of your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine here. Need to sign up for a vaccine appointment? You can do that here.


Do I need to quarantine if I’m exposed to someone who has COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated?

If you’re showing symptoms, you need to quarantine. If it’s been more than two weeks but fewer than 90 days since your second dose and you’re not showing any symptoms, you don’t need to quarantine, according to the CDC.


What can I do after I’m vaccinated?

You can see other fully vaccinated people indoors without masks – and feel free to give each other a hug, Dr. Kamitsuka said.


You can also spend time indoors without masks with people from one household who haven’t gotten their vaccines yet. Grandparents, that includes your grandchildren: Once you’re fully vaccinated, you can see your children and grandchildren, even if they haven’t gotten the vaccine yet. Just make sure your gatherings with non-vaccinated people include family members from the same household.


You can also travel again both domestically and internationally, the CDC announced in early April. You do not need to get tested for COVID-19 (unless the country you’re traveling to requires it) or quarantine before or after you travel.


What hasn’t changed?

You still should wear a mask and keep a six-foot distance from others when you’re in public, and you should still avoid crowded spaces, especially indoors. You also should hold off on traveling if you can, the CDC says.


Why are there still restrictions even after I have the vaccine?

Health care researchers and providers are still learning how the vaccines impact how COVID-19 is spread, especially variants of the virus. They’re also still learning about how long the vaccines can protect you from COVID-19.


Also, receiving a vaccine doesn’t ensure you won’t contract COVID-19, Dr. Kamitsuka said.


“While being fully vaccinated protects you from being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19, it does not fully protect you from becoming infected,” he said. “Even if you don’t show symptoms, if you get COVID-19, you will be contagious to others even if you’re vaccinated.”