You Shouldn't Do This Right After Getting a COVID Vaccine, Expert Warns

Don't expect life to immediately go back to the way it was before the pandemic.

Some Americans may be just days away from getting a coronavirus vaccine, and many people are preemptively celebrating what this means for their everyday lives. Unfortunately, even with a vaccine, there are still risks to consider—which means the pre-pandemic normalcy that everyone is craving might not be right around the corner. According to one expert, this means you shouldn't get rid of your masks right after getting the COVID vaccine. Read on to find out why you may still need to wear a mask, and for more on the vaccine, These Are the Only People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing two coronavirus vaccines for emergency use authorization—the earliest of which could be approved on Dec. 1o. And though this means some Americans may be getting vaccinated before Christmas, it doesn't mean we can throw caution to the wind. Debra Goff, PharmD, an infectious-disease pharmacist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Business Insider that things will take some time to return to normal.

"I think people's perception is you get the vaccine and you're safe and finally we can stop all this masking and social distancing and stuff, but that's not actually reality," she said. "A vaccine is the first step to helping us return to pre-COVID normality. It's not the end-all."

Goff says one hiccup in the path to normalcy is the fact that both the vaccines in review—Pfizer and Moderna—require two doses to reach the full efficacy of 95 percent. The first dose takes at least 10 to 12 days to become effective against the coronavirus—and even then, it's only 52 percent effective before the second dose. So tossing out your masks and heading to the bars right after your initial COVID shot is a bad idea.

But don't start a mask disposal pile after your second dose, either. For life to return to normal, experts need time to see how the vaccine will protect those who cannot get vaccinated, which will require herd immunity first. In a Nov. 30 interview with Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergAnthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that 75 to 85 percent of Americans need to get vaccinated to get the coronavirus "suppressed below the danger point."

And there is also the problem that the vaccines aren't 100 percent effective, meaning there is still a small chance you could get the coronavirus after being vaccinated. Goff says for this reason alone, you "don't want to be cavalier" in thinking you can't get infected with the virus.

"Between now and January, we're going to know a whole lot more. Every day is a new learning experience," Goff said. "We're almost there, but we're not across the finish line."

Of course, continued mask usage is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Goff says that while most people will be able to hang up their masks sometime next year, she predicts that the pandemic has made face coverings more socially acceptable for immunocompromised people or for people to wear when they are sick—which she says is a "good thing."

The complications surrounding two separate doses and the need for herd immunity aren't the only issues that may arise with the vaccine, however. There is also the concern of vaccine side effects. For some of the side effects you can expect, keep reading, and for more on coronavirus, This Strange Pain Could Be the First Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.


Dizzy woman sitting on couch

During Moderna's human trial in May, Ian Haydon received the highest dose of the vaccine. As a result, he experienced severe nausea, which caused him to vomit and faint, according to Science Magazine. Moderna has since reduced the dosage, however. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.


woman touching her forehead and reading a thermometer under a blanket

In a Nov. 23 interview with The Washington Post, Fauci discussed the COVID vaccine side effects he expects. One of these side effects was a fever, but he said it should only last, at most, 24 hours. And if you do get a fever, These Are the Worst Things You Can Do if You Have a Fever.


Woman with COVID headahce

Haydon also reported experiencing a headache after his second shot, and it may not have just been the result of the dosage he received. Science Magazine said this was a side effect for both vaccine trials. In the Moderna trial, 4.5 percent of participants experienced this side effect and in Pfizer's trial, 2 percent. And for more vaccine concerns, Doctors Have This One Worry About the COVID Vaccine.


A tired man adjusts his face mask while outdoors during the COVID-19 crises.

You may notice that you're temporarily more tired after getting the COVID vaccine. Science Magazine reported fatigue as the most common side effect in both Moderna and Pfizer's trials. For Moderna, fatigue was a side effect for 9.7 percent of participants and for Pfizer, 3.8 percent. And for more vaccine information, check out Can Your Employer Force You to Get the COVID Vaccine? It's Complicated.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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