What to Do after You Get a Vaccine for Coronavirus

The end of the coronavirus pandemic may soon be on the horizon as more biopharmaceutical companies roll out their coronavirus vaccines. Now that the United States is working its way through the tiered vaccine rollout, people are beginning to receive theirs more quickly. But once you receive a coronavirus vaccine of your own, just how protected are you from getting the virus or spreading it to others? And what should you do next?

Vaccine Efficacy

The two vaccines currently on the market (made by Pfizer and Moderna) have reported vaccine efficacies upwards of 90 percent. But this does not necessarily mean that you have a 10 percent chance of getting COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine; on the contrary, your chances of contracting the virus would be significantly lower. Both Pfizer and Moderna recommend two doses of the vaccine for maximum efficacy, but there is some promising evidence that even one shot may provide you with a significant amount of protection. However, that research is ongoing, and the CDC and WHO still recommend receiving both vaccines on schedule.

Can I Stop Taking Precautions after the Vaccine?

In short, no, you should not stop taking basic precautions like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing after getting the vaccine. It is not yet known whether getting a vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus to others, though evidence does suggest that the vaccine will protect you quite well from contracting a symptomatic infection. However, it could take one to two weeks before you are protected, so it is important to continue with maintaining basic precautions, including wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and keeping social distance practices in place.

More Caution Necessary Going Forward

The evidence is clear that vaccines protect you from the coronavirus. All the same, it could be months before enough people have been vaccinated to help slow the raging pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci has suggested that assuming the United States is able to vaccinate at least 70 percent to 85 percent of the population by the summer, returning to a more normal life might be possible in the fall. Even with the protection of the vaccine, it may still be possible for you to contract a milder case of COVID-19 or even spread the virus to others who are unvaccinated. For that reason, it is important to maintain caution and keep to protective measures for quite some time moving forward.