A masked woman walks outside on a city street.

I’m fully vaccinated against COVID-19. What now?

This article was updated December 29, 2021, to reflect new information from the CDC.

So you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, now what? Is quarantine over for you? Is it safe to start living your life like it’s 2019, before the pandemic began?

A positive step forward

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendations  for fully vaccinated people when they are in a non-health care setting. Fully vaccinated means it’s been two weeks since you received your final dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC guidelines, those who have been fully vaccinated can:

      • Travel domestic and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
      • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
      • Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic (not experiencing symptoms), with some exceptions for specific settings
      • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if not experiencing symptoms
      • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible

Fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

In addition, fully vaccinated people are still required to wear a mask on all planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

And individuals age 16 and older who are fully vaccinated should consider getting a booster. Those can be given six months after received Pfizer or Moderna or two months after receiving Johnson & Johnson. Anyone 18 and older can receive any of the vaccines as a booster. Teens ages 16 and 17 can only receive Pfizer, as it’s the only vaccine given approval as a booster for those ages.

Maintain caution

While fully vaccinated people being able to do more activities is a great sign that we’re making progress, but the CDC still recommends unvaccinated people wear masks indoors and in public gatherings. And fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask and physically distance when required by business and workplace guidelines.

Stephen Hippler, MD, chief clinical officer for OSF HealthCare, supports the cautious approach.

The CDC guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated will continue to evolve as more people are immunized against the virus, or until more research becomes available to suggest changes, Dr. Hippler said.

“Much is still unknown. Being smart and being safe is probably the right approach. And even those who are fully vaccinated need to watch out for others,” Dr. Hippler said. “It’s about protecting others and protecting our community in addition to protecting ourselves.”

Last Updated: December 29, 2021

About Author: Ken Harris

Ken Harris is the proudest father and a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.

He has a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.

In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.

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Categories: COVID-19