2 important reasons to protect yourself and others after getting vaccinated

Every day, more Americans are gaining protection against COVID-19. Since mid-December 2020, the United States has distributed more than 57 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with 1.8 million shots now distributed a day.[1] Currently approved vaccines show between 94.5-95% efficacy[2] in protecting individuals from experiencing severe symptoms – great news for decreasing the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

Now that you have had your shot, you may wonder when life can go back to “normal.” Can you meet with friends, family, and co-workers without socially distancing or wearing a mask?

ProtectWell recently talked with Dr. Ethan Berke, Chief Public Health Officer with UnitedHealth Group, for his input on whether or not individuals can stop practicing safeguards once they’re vaccinated: “The answer? Not yet. The vaccination can take up to several weeks to build immunity, and until we know more practicing safeguards, including symptom checking, is still advised.”

There are two main reasons why it is important to keep up with safeguards after you are vaccinated:

1.    Building immunity takes time

Currently approved vaccines are administered in two doses, spread over 3-4 weeks (depending on which vaccine you receive). It takes time after that first shot for your body to learn how to fight COVID-19. Experts say full protection does not kick in until a few weeks after your second dose.[3] As your body builds immunity, maintain protective habits to ensure you do not become sick with the virus before you are completely protected.

Experts are also still investigating the vaccine’s effect on COVID-19 variants. Dr. Berke sums up why variants mean we can’t let down our guard: “Variants are keeping us on our toes. People need to keep up protective habits with so many unknowns surrounding COVID-19.”

2.    Protecting others

Another reason to persist in practicing safeguards even after getting vaccinated is that experts are unsure of the vaccine’s effect on transmission. Even though the vaccine helps your body fight COVID-19 so that you do not get sick, you may still be able to spread the virus to others. In terms of transmission, Dr. Berke says, “research is underway to examine how vaccines change the way the virus behaves and potentially infects others.”

ProtectWell is your ally 

After your vaccination, continue to use your ProtectWell app daily. The ProtectWell app helps you track how you are physically feeling each day and decide if you are “Cleared” or should “Stay Home” if experiencing any symptoms or have recent exposure to COVID-19. The ProtectWell app also now features an option to easily upload your vaccine card to store your vaccination information, share your vaccination status with an organization you are associated with in the app and receive a calendar reminder to get your second dose if applicable.

ProtectWell helps you continue to practice safeguards once you get your shot to protect yourself and others.

[1]How is the COVID-19 vaccination campaign going on your state? NPR.org.  https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/01/28/960901166/how-is-the-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-going-in-your-state. Published February 19, 2021. Accessed February 19, 2021.

[2] Different COVID-19 vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mRNA.html. Updated January 15, 2021. Accessed February 9, 2021.

[3] What to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html. Updated January 11, 2021. Accessed February 2, 2021.