Dr. Fauci Just Said When You Can See Other People After Being Vaccinated
You should wait this long after your second shot before resuming contact.
As the number of Americans being vaccinated against COVID-19 increases, talk has turned to what exactly you can change about your day-to-day life post-vaccination. The guidance we've continuously heard is to keep wearing your mask, maintaining social distance, and washing your hands, but that is finally starting to change. With many factors to consider, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, appeared on CNN's State of the Union this weekend to discuss life after your vaccination and he gave a very precise look at when it's OK to start seeing other vaccinated people. Read on to find out the exact timeline, and for more on where things are with the pandemic, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said That He's Worried About COVID in These 2 States.
You shouldn't be seeing other vaccinated people until two weeks after your second shot.
Fauci's advice was to consider yourself safe two weeks after receiving your second shot, which is when you should have reaped the benefits of the vaccine's efficacy. "People who are doubly vaccinated 14 days out, they're protected, they have that 94 percent to 95 percent protection," Fauci said, referring to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. He didn't specifically discuss the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in this regard, which is only a single shot.
"If you have individuals, adults who are vaccinated, two people that are doubly vaccinated and are protected, then you can do things that we weren't talking about before," Fauci said. "You can have dinner in a home without masks on. You can have friends who you know are doubly vaccinated and are protected together with you." And for more vaccine news you should know, find out why The Pfizer Vaccine May Be Less Effective If You Have This Common Condition.
If you start to ease up on safety precautions before your second shot, the virus could mutate.
During a CNN virtual town hall in January, Fauci explained that Moderna and Pfizer's mRNA vaccines don't immediately provide full protection against COVID. "You can get some degree of protection 10 days after the first dose, but you can't rely on that," he said, which is why you need to wait 14 days after your second dose.
Fauci has also been vocally opposed to the strategy of delaying second doses in order to get as many first shots administered as possible. According to the expert, spacing out vaccinations too much—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says up to six weeks is OK—could lead to the creation of more new COVID strains.
"The other theoretical issue that could be problematic with regard to only a single dose, that if you get a sub-optimum response, the way viruses respond to pressure, you could actually be inadvertently selecting for more mutants," Fauci said during a White House press briefing in early February. "So for that reason, we have continued to go by the fact that we feel the optimum approach would be to continue with getting as many people on their first dose as possible, but also making sure that people on time get their second dose." And for more on what to expect from your second shot, check out Doctors Are Warning You to "Be Prepared" for This After Your Second Dose.
Your behavior outside of your home must remain the same even if you're fully vaccinated.
On Feb. 28, Fauci stressed that out in public, there are still 70,000 new infections per day (that number has since dropped to about 50,000) and only 25 million are fully vaccinated, which is why he said caution is required when you're in public. Once you're outside of your home with people whose vaccination status you don't know, you must again follow safety precautions. "You can start doing things essentially in the home, in a setting where you're not out in the community," Fauci said on CNN. And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
While you may not be at risk of getting COVID, you could potentially still transmit it to others.
A vaccine may stop you from getting ill with COVID-19, but it may not prevent you from passing the virus on to other people. This is obviously dangerous, as it means you could potentially have people who feel healthy thanks to the vaccine unknowingly spreading the disease.
During a mid-February White House COVID response team briefing, Fauci took the time to address the age-old question of does the COVID vaccine prevent transmission? "What has happened over the past couple of weeks is there have been some studies that are pointing into a very favorable direction that will have to be verified and corroborated by other studies," he said.
Fauci cited a pre-print of a study that was shared on Feb. 8 on medRxiv, suggesting that people vaccinated in Israel have significantly reduced viral loads, which also means they're less likely to transmit the virus. "The lower the viral load, the less likelihood of transmissibility; the higher the viral load, the higher the likelihood of transmissibility," Fauci said. But, as he noted, more research needs to be done to draw a clear conclusion. And for an update on the future of COVID vaccinations, check out The Pfizer CEO Says This Is How Often You'll Need a COVID Vaccine.
The CDC will be releasing new guidelines on this topic soon.
During his State of the Union interview, Fauci said that following "intense discussions," the CDC would be publishing more detailed guidelines for vaccinated people shortly.
"The CDC will be coming out within the next few weeks, maybe even sooner, with some guidelines about what people who are vaccinated," he said. "The CDC wants to do things that are science-based. If you can't get the science, you have got to maybe use modeling. And in addition to modeling, you use good, professional commonsense judgment. They will be coming out with that." And for more relevant advice from the CDC, check out The CDC Says Don't Do This Within 2 Weeks of Your COVID Vaccine.