We’re getting there!
After months of the highest COVID-19 surge yet, cases are finally falling, largely thanks to vaccination. In many states, large portions of the population have been offered vaccines: healthcare workers, adults aged 65+, teachers and some other essential workers, and medically vulnerable adults of all ages. President Biden has instructed states to offer vaccines to all adults by May 1st. With two million vaccines being administered each day — soon to be three million — this goal is becoming a reality!
Yet, as states celebrate by loosening restrictions, the CDC warns us to stay vigilant. We are not yet out of the woods.
If you are fully vaccinated, that is certainly cause for celebration! Optimism and hope are powerful healers, and we hope you’ll take full advantage of them. Be mindful, however, of the big picture as well, and take steps to ensure that we don’t accidentally prolong this disaster by moving on too quickly. Consider the following tips as you navigate the next few months:
1. remember immunity takes time
You do not reach maximum protection until your immune system has had time to churn out lots of antibodies. That takes time — don’t consider yourself safe until two weeks after your final shot (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson only requires one). Until then, act as you did before getting vaccinated.
2. stay masked and distanced
Ok, so now you’re fully vaccinated! Congratulations! While you are significantly protected from serious illness or death from COVID-19, you can still become infected. We do not yet know how effective the vaccines are at protecting against the new — more dangerous — variants. Nor do we know If the vaccines prevent long-term COVID-19; many COVID “long-haulers” had only mild symptoms when first infected, and some were completely asymptomatic at first.
We also do not yet know how well vaccines prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to others. You may come into contact with people who are not vaccinated, or who have been vaccinated but are immunocompromised and therefore still more vulnerable than you.
So, to protect yourself, those you love, and the community as a whole, the CDC recommends you continue the precautions we’ve heard so much about: mask up, stay six feet away from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds and indoor gatherings.
3. it’s ok to celebrate!
Yes, precautions are hugely important, but don’t let them suck all the excitement out of what is truly a huge moment. Optimism is crucial to keeping up our stamina in this home stretch. So let yourself feel it: You are vaccinated! Cases are dropping dramatically! The end IS in sight! Do something fun to celebrate your new immune status — hold a zoom party, throw a fancy dinner with your household, or gather with a few friends outdoors on a beautiful day. If you find yourself feeling impatient with maintaining masks and distancing, do something fun and new. Lean into the warmer spring weather, if that helps foster a sense of change and excitement (see #4 below!).
The CDC has also stated that you can begin socializing indoors with another household if you are fully vaccinated. Be sure everyone is comfortable, no one is high-risk, and communicate well about distancing and masks so that everyone is on the same page. See the full recommendation here.
4. get outside
As weather improves this spring, remember that socializing outdoors drastically reduces the risk of transmission. Being outdoors during the hopeful springtime rebirth can also do wonders for mental health in general. Feeling cooped up and antsy to get back to “normal” life? Go for a walk with friends. Sit in a beautiful spot to listen to birds and look at flowers. Host a cookout or picnic. Reconnect with friends and fun, in the safety of the great outdoors.