As of last week, more than 37 million people in the U.S. have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another 13 million people have received the second dose, completing their vaccination series against Covid-19.
With many already vaccinated against the virus, the questions are: When can we think about visiting a family or planning a social gathering? Vaccination can avoid anxiety about going out, but even people who have received both doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine must follow public health guidelines about wearing a well – equipped mask and social distance.
“Full vaccine” means that at least two weeks have passed since a person received a second dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single dose of a single-dose vaccine.
NBC News asked vaccine experts what they would feel comfortable doing once they are fully vaccinated.
Is it safe to visit a family?
Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s top public health advisers, told Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show that it is often questioned whether it is safe to come together without some of the public health measures such as concealment and social distance.
“The answer, in the end, is yes,” he said during Thursday’s interview.
However, that is if everyone in the group is fully vaccinated. Fauci urged caution if only one party had received the vaccine, as people who received the vaccine could get a virus in the nose and pass it on to others.
“That’s why we say that so that most people get the vaccine, and that the virus level is very low, if you get the vaccine, it would be sensible to wear, ”Fauci said.
Although we do not yet know the extent to which the vaccine restricts transmission, early data from Moderna and AstraZeneca suggest little protection against asymptomatic infection, and therefore a lower potential for the virus to spread.
“It simply came to our notice then [the vaccines] can prevent infection, which means you could become infected and pass it on to others without your knowledge, ”said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Health Public Harvard TH Chan. “That’s something we’re still learning about.”
While these vaccines are some of the greatest scientific achievements Hanage has seen in his career, it is not a good idea to immediately go back to pre – pandemic life, he warned.
Like Fauci, Hanage agreed that if he and his older family had been vaccinated it would have been safe to suckle them – unless both parties had completed the vaccination series. aca.
“One of the best things about the vaccine is that because it’s spread out to older and more vulnerable people to disease, it’s going to be a lot easier to connect with them,” he said. Hanage.
Dr. Jay Varkey, an associate professor of infectious disease at Emory University in Atlanta, said that although he has completed his vaccination series and his parents are close to doing the same, it would not feel safe to give them a cup if community distribution rates are low. He said if his older family members were essential workers, it would give him even more time.
“If my family members were out in the community as essential workers, working in factories or in school settings where they are connected to many other people, many of whom do not get the job. vaccine, I would stay away a little longer, ”Varkey said.
Is it safe to gather indoors?
Infectious disease experts also had differing views on whether they felt safe gathering in with friends.
Dr Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease physician at UCSF Health, has suggested creating “immune bubbles” with other members who have also been vaccinated. Inside the bubble, vaccinated friends and family can gather without a mask or social distance.
For example, Chin-Hong has a group of five to seven colleagues at work who have completed their vaccination series and are looking forward to getting them over for dinner. Within these bubbles, it is safe to collect without masks and social distance.
“We used to put on masks before I went into my home or dinner but once inside, I think I would feel comfortable with everyone wearing it. take off the masks, sit around the table, watch a football game or listen to music, ”Chin-Hong told NBC News on Thursday in a Facebook Live” Doc to Doc “interview with the senior medical correspondent , Dr. John Torres. “These have all been postponed for over a year, and I can’t wait to do that.”
Hanage urged a few more warnings to gather indoors without masks for a while, so that the virus gains more control in the community.
“We need to keep an eye on this virus. It’s very slippery, so be careful,” Hanage said. “If I was in that position, I would keep a mask on for now, but I would look forward to taking it off.”
Although experts had differing opinions about what is safe after vaccination, they all agreed on one thing: Do not lose the mask when out in public situations.
“Other people don’t know you’ve had the vaccine, so wearing a mask shows you get the vaccine or not, you’re still looking at it. for them, ”said Hanage.