The introduction of coronavirus vaccines late last year has people thinking about the end of the pandemic. But it also has the fully vaccinated considering what they can do with friends and family.
An increasing vaccination rate translates into more people making plans to get together. But what are the guidelines for what people should be doing if they have been vaccinated? What about the unvaccinated? Can they mingle with the vaccinated?
The number of people seeking vaccinations has grown substantially the past couple of weeks as more people have been made eligible. The demand is sure to grow Thursday, April 15, when everyone 16 and older will be approved to get vaccinated.
As of Monday, 766,610 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in King County, which is 34% of county residents, and more than 20% of the county population is fully vaccinated.
Snohomish County’s numbers are similar to King County, with 30% of people having at least one shot and almost 18% of residents fully vaccinated.
We delve into these questions about who can do what for this week’s installment of FAQ Friday.
What can people who are fully vaccinated do?
To be considered fully vaccinated a person needs to be two weeks removed from the second shot of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Those who are fully vaccinated have what seems like immense freedom after the past year of being hunkered down. According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fully vaccinated can:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people in a home or private setting without a mask or staying six feet apart.
- Forego masks and keeping six feet distance when visiting unvaccinated people in a single household, if the unvaccinated people are not at risk of severe illness.
- Travel domestically without quarantining afterward or being tested before and after traveling.
- Before traveling internationally you should check COVID-19 restrictions and requirements at your destination. Fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine upon their return to the United States or get a test before traveling internationally if their destination doesn’t require a test. The CDC still suggests people get tested 3 to 5 days after traveling internationally.
Dr. Chris Spitters, the Snohomish Health District’s health officer, recommends that people who are fully vaccinated still practice caution when they’re with those who aren’t vaccinated.
“Although the rules permit me to not wear a mask, as a vaccinated person with those who are unvaccinated, I just think it makes more sense to err on the side of caution,” Spitters said. “It’s just not that big a deal to keep the mask on and stay six feet away.”
Being fully vaccinated doesn’t mean anything goes. The CDC still suggests that fully vaccinated people should not attend medium and large gatherings, and shouldn’t visit indoors without a mask with people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection.
What has changed for the unvaccinated?
Not a lot. Most of what public health officials have been suggesting for the past year still applies to people not vaccinated, or not fully vaccinated. This group still needs to keep six feet distance from others, avoid gatherings, wear masks and regularly wash their hands.
The only exception is that, in limited situations, the unvaccinated do not need to wear a mask when in a home with people who are fully vaccinated.