Many people are hoping that getting a Covid-19 vaccine will mark an immediate return to normal: more masks, more distancing, safe dining and big hugs with friends. The reality is more complicated. For now, people who have been vaccinated must navigate decision-making in a world where the vaccinated and the unvaccinated will coexist for months, even within the same household. So what should and shouldn’t you do? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue guidelines soon. “We are taking the time to get it right and will be posting the tips soon,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday. “We want to make sure the communication is crystal clear.” In the meantime, other experts are somewhat divided. Some say people who have been vaccinated can and should have a lot more freedom, and think it is important to stress this to encourage more people to get vaccinated. Others are more conservative, saying it is too early to abandon too many precautions without more conclusive data on the effectiveness of vaccines against new variants and the potential risk of vaccinated people spreading the virus to unvaccinated people. Most agree that until we get closer to herd immunity – when a substantial majority of the population is protected by vaccination or natural infection so the virus cannot easily spread – wearing masks , social distancing and avoiding crowded gatherings indoors should be common practice in public spaces. “Particularly during these several months when vaccination coverage is low, we are still learning about the variants, and we still have to know this further transmission, the public health message is really to maintain these behaviors,” explains Chris Beyrer, professor. of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Until we get out of it. We’re not out of it yet. A doctor shows his vaccination record. Photo: chandan khanna / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images Here are the scientists’ recommendations on how to assess risks. Can vaccinated people meet other vaccinated people? Most experts agree that once fully vaccinated – two weeks after your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or about a month after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – it is safe to meet other fully vaccinated people inside without. mask or distance. But gatherings should be small. Getting together with other vaccinated people is “scientifically very safe,” says Paul E. Sax, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Nothing is 100% effective, but “getting together with other vaccinated people is very close,” he says. “I don’t think people should run into a crowded bar where people are yelling at each other,” he says. “But the kind of socializing that is part of human nature and that has been suspended for a lot of people – it can resume.” The larger the group, the more risky the interaction, because you can’t verify that everyone is vaccinated and you don’t know what their exposures are, says Leana Wen, emergency physician and professor of public health at the University. George Washington in Washington, DC. “I’m talking about another couple or maybe two other couples at most,” says Dr. Wen. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is less conservative, saying people who have been vaccinated should feel more comfortable. “They can organize dinners. They can go to a restaurant. They can go to the movies, ”she said. But she notes that even those vaccinated will have to adhere to mask and distance requirements in these public places until we achieve herd immunity. What if adults are vaccinated but children are not? There is currently no licensed vaccine for children and adolescents under the age of 16. “This will be one of those issues that families will have to grapple with and exercise caution with,” says Dr Beyrer. There is a significant difference between young children and adolescents or adolescents in terms of transmitting the virus and getting the disease, says Dr. Sax. Adolescents catch and transmit Covid-19 in the same way as young adults, while young children do not contract the symptomatic disease as often and do not seem to transmit as much. “Each family and group of friends will make decisions based on their own tolerance for risk,” says Dr. Sax. People who are immunocompromised and their families should be more careful because vaccines in general may be less effective in them, says Dr. Sax. Dr. Wen says she recommends families continue to take playtime precautions when adults are vaccinated but children are not. “If these families also team up with other families, it’s a risky scenario that I wouldn’t recommend at this time,” says Dr Wen of indoor gatherings. “They could be an asymptomatic carrier who would then pass it on to their children. And if the kids are in school or daycare, there might be a further gap from that. What is the final question on whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus to unvaccinated people? Recent studies have shown that vaccination reduces asymptomatic infection by more than 80% compared to unvaccinated people and that nasal viral loads are low and potentially non-infectious, says Dr Gandhi. But other experts say the evidence is preliminary and more conclusive evidence is needed. And the new variants raise additional questions about the effectiveness of vaccines. What activities should I prioritize after being vaccinated? Schedule any routine medical and health appointments you’ve postponed, says Dr. Wen. Get your colonoscopy, mammogram, or dental cleaning. Plan elective surgery. “Anything like that, you should take it back because you’re well protected,” says Dr Wen. What about travel? Once you’re vaccinated, traveling itself is less risky, says Dr Wen, as is staying in hotels or going to restaurants, as long as you follow safety protocols. But be careful about how you meet people once you get to your destination, she says, especially if they aren’t vaccinated or if they live in an area with high transmission rates. Is it safe for my elderly parents to travel for a visit? If the grandparents are now fully vaccinated, they should be able to travel safely for a visit. “The trip itself is very low risk,” says Dr. Wen. “If they follow precautions like wearing a mask, the risk of them contracting the coronavirus and passing it on to the rest of the family is extremely low and the payoff is huge. People can’t wait to see their families. But always weigh the specifics of your situation. If you have an older unvaccinated teenager and an elderly, frail grandparent, consider more precautions, says Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. Which activities have a lower and higher risk, even after vaccination? People who have been vaccinated may feel comfortable performing quiet indoor activities where people usually need to be masked and kept away, such as visiting an infrequently visited museum, says Dr Sax. Outdoor activities are even safer. High-risk situations include indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and places of worship, where people sing and talk. “We don’t want to push the boundaries of what vaccines can do before the number of cases drops,” says Dr Sax. He and his doctor wife are both fully vaccinated but won’t dine in restaurants until the number of cases and hospitalizations are significantly lower, he says. Airports in Paris and Singapore, along with airlines such as United and JetBlue, are experimenting with apps that verify travelers are not Covid before boarding. The WSJ is heading to an airport in Rome to see how a digital health passport works. Photo credit: AOKpass —Betsy McKay contributed to this article. Write Sumathi Reddy at [email protected] Share your thoughts If you’ve been vaccinated, what are you comfortable doing? Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8.