The United States is now vaccinating around 3 million people a day against COVID-19, and a third of the nation's adult population has gotten at least one shot. President Biden said that by April 19, 90% of adults in the US will be eligible for a vaccine, and all 50 states have opened up or plan to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults by Biden’s May 1 deadline.
The bad news: COVID-19 cases are rising across the country – especially in the Northeast and Midwest – with about 60,000 new cases being reported a day. The rise is in part because of variants continuing to spread and states easing restrictions. Biden has called on certain states to reinstate mask mandates. And CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she’s feeling a sense of “impending doom” of a potential fourth surge in cases, and that Americans need to “hold on a little longer.” Meaning: whether you’re fully vaccinated or still waiting to get a shot, make sure you’re taking steps to keep yourself and others safe.
Your friends might be posting pictures of their vaccine cards on Instagram (more on that below). But that doesn’t mean they’re completely protected from COVID-19 just yet. The CDC says you're fully vaccinated…
2 weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
2 weeks after your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
If you’ve only gotten one Pfizer or Moderna shot, or it’s been less than two weeks since getting the J&J shot, you’re not fully protected.
In March, the CDC released guidelines to follow after you're fully vaccinated. Here's what you can do...
Hang out inside with other people who are fully vaccinated, no masks required.
Hang out inside with unvaccinated people from a single household (think: visiting relatives who all live together), no masks or physical distancing required. Note: this only applies if the people you're visiting are at low risk for severe COVID-19.
Say ‘byeee’ to quarantining if you're exposed to COVID-19 and aren’t showing symptoms.
And here’s what remains the same…
Take steps (like wearing a mask) to protect yourself and others when in public, hanging out with unvaccinated people from more than 1 household, and visiting with unvaccinated people who have a higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 (like anyone older than 65 or those with underlying health conditions).
Avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
Be on the lookout for symptoms, especially if you've been around someone who’s sick.
What about travel?
In early April, the CDC updated its travel guidelines, saying fully vaccinated people can travel within the US at low risk to themselves. And don’t need to be tested or quarantined afterward as long as they take precautions while traveling. Think: wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, washing their hands.
The agency also issued guidance on international travel. Here’s what it says about fully vaccinated people who’re heading out of the country…
You don’t need to get a COVID-19 test before travel unless it’s required by your destination
You don’t need to quarantine after coming back into the US unless it’s required by a state or local jurisdiction
You still need a negative COVID-19 test result before hopping on a plane back to the US and to get a test three to five days after returning
You should continue to take precautions while traveling abroad (see: above).
If you’re not fully vaccinated, the CDC still says you shouldn’t travel unless it’s essential. But if you are planning to get away, here are some guidelines to stay safe.
There’s a lot of info out there about the COVID-19 vaccines. And it can be confusing to figure out where to begin (we've got some tips for that here). So to make your search a little easier, here are some websites and tools to help you get the info you need.
Plan Your Vaccine. This website helps you plan your vaccination visit. You can find out about eligibility, as well as vaccination sites near you. Info is available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.
VaccineFinder. This tool helps you find clinics, pharmacies, and other locations that administer vaccines. You can filter it by the type of vaccine and how close or far away sites are. Heads up: info may be limited for some states as more providers update locations.
FAQs on COVID-19 vaccination. You might have some more Qs about the vaccine, including the side effects and the costs. Here are your answers, courtesy of the CDC.
What to know about the top four vaccines. We Skimm’d how vaccines get developed and approved, and what you need to know about the top four: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
Myths vs facts on the vaccines. There’s been false info spreading about them, like that they can alter your DNA or impact fertility. Experts from Johns Hopkins are setting the record straight, “MythBusters” style.
Best practices for posting about your vaccine on social media. The Better Business Bureau’s tip? Don’t share your vaccine card on social media. Here’s why and what to post instead.
When the pandemic started a year ago, the idea of having a COVID-19 vaccine at our disposal within months felt like a pipe dream. Now we have three authorized vaccines and millions of Americans getting inoculated every day. But we have to keep up the fight against the virus as the country aims to get closer to herd immunity, and not let our guard down.
Last updated on April 5 – Added the CDC's latest travel guidance for fully vaccinated people.
Skimm'd by Maria Martinolich and Kamini Ramdeen
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