After your COVID-19 vaccination: 5 things to do next

If you’ve been vaccinated, the feeling of finally being able to do what you’ve been missing can be liberating – restaurants are opening back up, travel is increasing, and we’re starting to see parts of the world return to pre-pandemic ways.

But until more people are vaccinated, knowing what to do (and when) will help put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us for good while still looking out for vulnerable people. We can all do our part to help our communities be safer and healthier.

1. Know when you have full COVID-19 protection

After you’ve been vaccinated, protection against COVID-19 isn’t immediate – your immune system still needs time to use the vaccine to learn how to protect you. That’s why it’s so important to understand when you’re in the clear.

You’re fully protected against COVID-19 about two weeks after your final dose.

  • For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, that’s two weeks after your second dose.
  • For the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, that’s two weeks after your single dose.

If you haven’t waited two weeks yet, you’re still at greater risk for catching COVID-19 or passing it to others. It can be tough, but be sure to wait those full two weeks before changing your COVID-19 safety routines or habits.

2. Understand changed masking requirements

According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most settings. Many states have also updated their masking standards as a result.

Wearing a mask is still required in some situations

Even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, there are some settings where you still need to wear a mask to help protect vulnerable individuals:

  • In hospitals, clinics and other health care settings
  • When taking communal transportation, like buses, trains or airplanes
  • If a workplace, business or other place requires masking

Individual organizations and governments can still choose to make masking (or other COVID-19 safety procedures) mandatory, regardless of your vaccination status. Always follow local guidance for the store, restaurant or location you’re in.

3. Get tips for situations when not everyone is (or can be) vaccinated

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, not everyone else is. In addition, some people, like younger children, aren’t able to get vaccinated yet.

Safety guidelines are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Understanding how you might navigate situations when not everyone around you is (or can be) vaccinated may help you feel more confident.

4. Keep washing your hands frequently

Washing your hands often is always a good idea! Frequent handwashing helps prevent all kinds of germs from making you sick and spreading to others.

Especially while COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities, washing your hands continues to be a basic safety measure to help keep everyone healthier. It only takes about 20 seconds, and the benefits for both you and others are significant.

5. Encourage friends and family to get vaccinated

The evidence is clear: Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important things we can do to help bring the pandemic to an end and resume regular life. But some people remain hesitant about vaccination.

We want everyone who’s eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine to do so. But as a close friend or family member, it’s actually you who’s in the best position to talk with those you care about and inspire them to get vaccinated.

If you’re comfortable with it, consider bringing up vaccination with your friends and family. If someone isn’t sure about getting vaccinated:

  • Be empathetic. Since the vaccines are new, it’s normal to have questions, and it can be hard distinguishing good information sources from misinformation. Having an empathetic attitude can help you keep things in perspective, acknowledge feelings and explore concerns together.
  • Ask if you can share information with them. No one likes being pressured, so if you’ve been able to have a good discussion with a friend or family member, ask if you can point them to trusted information sources. Some people may have general questions, while others may have specific concerns – you don’t have to be an expert. HealthPartners and Park Nicollet have great vaccine FAQs and vaccine facts that address many common questions.
  • Focus on personal situations and goals. Helping the people you care about find a reason to get vaccinated can help overcome a reason not to. And oftentimes, personal vaccination reasons are more persuasive than general ones. Whether it’s seeing each other in person again, being able to attend a family reunion or enjoying a vacation together, getting vaccinated can help enable those meaningful personal experiences.
  • Help make vaccination happen. If a loved one decides to get vaccinated, help them make that experience faster and easier. For example, you might assist them with scheduling a vaccination appointment, drive them to and from their appointment, babysit or pet sit while they’re getting vaccinated, or something else. By making yourself available, you can help turn a vaccination commitment into a reality.