After your COVID-19 vaccination: Safety steps to keep following

As more people get COVID-19 vaccines, it can be tempting to do away with masks, go to large gatherings and get back to old pre-pandemic habits.

But until more people are vaccinated, it’s vital to keep on COVID-19 safety measures. Especially in public, continued mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing will help prevent the coronavirus from making a comeback.

We can’t let our guard down too early. That means you’re on the front lines of putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us for good.

Keep wearing a mask, especially in public

When you’re around others in public, you can’t be sure who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t. We also don’t know yet whether being vaccinated stops you from infecting others if you encounter the coronavirus.

For these reasons, it’s essential to keep wearing a mask to help protect vulnerable people who are most at risk from severe COVID-19 complications. Wearing a mask helps everyone stay safe until scientists research more about how vaccines affect COVID-19 spread.

Where it’s okay to take off your mask

According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you’ve been fully vaccinated, there are certain settings where you don’t need to wear a mask.

Check with the CDC or your state’s health department for the latest information. If you’re in a place where you can take off your mask, we recommend confirming with the people around you that they’re comfortable going maskless.

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.

Keep social distancing

It’s clear that COVID-19 vaccines help stop you from getting sick. But we’re still learning how they affect the spread of COVID-19 in public and private. Scientists are still gathering this information.

Until we know more, social distancing – staying at least six feet away from other people – will help keep people safe and reduce COVID-19 infection rates.

Always follow state and local guidance

States set general guidelines on COVID-19 safety procedures for things like mask wearing, which locations can be open and at how much capacity, and more. These guidelines are designed to support everyone’s safety, and they may change in response to vaccination rates, positive COVID-19 cases and more.

State guidelines are meant to be a baseline – some communities or places may have stricter safety procedures they’ve set up themselves. Always follow individual directions for the store, restaurant or location you’re in. When in doubt, follow state guidelines for basic precautions.