In the United States, more and more people are getting fully vaccinated – thanks to the federal efforts that are boosting the vaccination rates. However, most people still wonder when their life will return to normal even after getting fully vaccinated.
The pandemic is not over yet, so before you throw away your face masks, know about a few important Q&As. Experts still advise people to continue wearing masks a while longer, especially when they in public settings.
Here are a few Q&As that will help clear your doubts.
- Is it safe to not wear a mask after vaccination?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in late April that fully vaccinate people would not need to wear masks anymore in most places, except for high-risk areas such as hospitals, nursing homes, and on public transport. But, given the fact that children are not yet fully vaccinated, vaccinated adults need to continue wearing a mask.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Kristin Englund says, “Face masks and physical distancing will need to continue into the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, getting vaccinated does not instantly mean we can go back to how life was before. Until we have some level of herd immunity, the vaccine is now just another layer of protection against COVID-19.”
Dr. Englund of Cleveland Clinic explains there are a few reasons why you still need to wear a mask even after getting vaccinated. She says it takes time for the vaccines to work and they are not 100% effective. She also says those who have been fully vaccinated might be asymptomatic spreaders.
So, it is unclear whether it is safe to not wear a mask after getting fully vaccinated. It is better to wear a mask in public settings even if you are fully vaccinated.
- Is it safe to drink alcohol after getting the COVID vaccine?
Currently, there is no official federal government recommendation on this, but experts say it is not really something to worry about, within reason. Clinical trials of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines did not require participants to avoid alcohol. Plus, the findings did not mention people having issues after drinking, according to Prevention.com.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Richard Watkins says, “There is no evidence that alcohol reduces the formation of antibodies.” However, he has recommended watching your alcohol consumption days after getting vaccinated for a different reason.
After vaccination, some people may experience flu-like side effects such as a fever, chills, fatigue, and a headache, and “being intoxicated or hungover will make things less pleasant,” explains Dr. Watkins of the Northeast Ohio Medical University.
So, if you do not experience post-vaccination side effects and want to celebrate your immunity against COVID-19 with a drink, just keep a watch on recommended daily guidelines – two drinks for men and one for women, according to Prevention.com.
- Is it safe for 12-year-olds to get the COVID vaccine?
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for teenagers aged 16 and above, and children aged between 12 and 15. So, yes, it is sage for 12-year-olds to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is given intramuscularly in two doses three weeks apart.
Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna have enrolled children as young as 6 months in clinical trial studies, according to Dr. Angela Dangvu, a CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) pediatrician. She says AstraZeneca and Janssen also have plans to study their vaccines in younger age groups.
She says, “The Pfizer vaccine is absolutely safe for children ages 12-15 years and teens ages 16 years and older. In clinical trials, enough teens and children participated to show that the vaccine is safe for 12-year-olds and older. We have no reason to expect that children would tolerate the vaccine less favorably than adults would.”
- Is it safe to get the COVID vaccine if you are pregnant?
The overall risk of severe COVID-19 illness in pregnant women is low, but they do have an increased risk for severe illness than non-pregnant women. At this point, there are limited data available about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women, according to the CDC.
Some experts believe that the currently available vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk for pregnant women, but as said above, there is currently limited data on the safety of these vaccines in pregnancy. Clinical trials to study the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines are underway or planned, says CDC.
However, preclinical studies of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy have found no safety concerns in pregnant animals or their babies.
The CDC encourages pregnant women to enroll in “V-Safe” if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe is CDC’s smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after vaccination. The agency advises pregnant women to consult with doctors before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
- When does social distancing end?
Social distancing has become one of the most important aspects of our lives since the pandemic began. And it is still unclear when will it end even after millions of people getting fully vaccinated. “We don’t yet know when social distancing rules will be lifted, but June 21 is the earliest possible date,” says heart.co.uk.
In October 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said mask-wearing and social distancing will likely be continued until 2022. He said at the time, “It’s not going to be the way it was with polio and measles, where you get a vaccine, case closed, it’s done. It’s going to be public health measures that linger for months and months.”
Dr. Fauci explained that facemasks and social distancing will need to continue even during the distribution of coronavirus vaccines. So, it is unclear when will social distancing end.
- How much does wearing a mask and social distancing help?
The CDC says limiting close face-to-face contact with others by using a facemask and maintain social distance is the best way to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus infection.
Last year, a health expert from UC Davis said scientific evidence is clear. Dr. Dean Blumberg said, “Along with preventing someone from transmitting the coronavirus, a range of new research shows that the risk of infection to the [mask] wearer is decreased by 65%.” Dr. Blumberg is the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “People who don’t wear a mask increase the risk of transmission to everyone, not just the people they come into contact with,” he added. “It’s all the people those people will have contact with. You’re being an irresponsible member of the community if you’re not wearing a mask. It’s like double-dipping in the guacamole. You’re not being nice to others.”