Can you stop wearing a mask and start seeing other vaccinated people?
What will life look like after you get the COVID-19 vaccine? Dr. Oz spoke to Dr. Seema Yasmin, an epidemiologist and former disease detective for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about the possibilities. She said life likely won't return to what we think of as "normal" until "around three in four Americans" are vaccinated, but she explained what a few common scenarios would look like in the immediate future.
Can You Stop Wearing a Mask After Getting Vaccinated?
Yasmin said the clinical trials for the vaccines showed that they lowered your chance of getting sick from COVID-19, but doctors weren't sure if they made you less contagious to other people. That means it wasn't clear if you could still contract the virus and pass it to others who weren't vaccinated yet.
"Now, I'm hoping we'll get more and more evident that these vaccines don't just protect us against sickness, but also protect us against being contagious. But we can't let down our guard too soon," Yasmin said.
Can You Eat Indoors With Other Vaccinated People?
Yasmin said it may be natural to think it's safe to get together with other people who have been vaccinated, but there are still some concerns about spreading the virus. She compared getting the vaccine to surrounding yourself with a net, not necessarily a wall.
"It can be porous. So even within our post-vaccination bubble or pod, there are others that are going to be higher exposure than other people. They might be hanging out with others who are not vaccinated. Maybe the thinking is, 'We got vaccinated, we're going to hang out.' But let's not invite 200 people to our home for a party. If your home is even that big, you might say, 'We're going to have a smaller gathering. All folks have been vaccinated. We'll have it in the backyard.' Let's still be sensible. We got our shots, but let's try to minimize the risk of exposure and infection, let's all try and keep our distance a little bit. Let's not maybe share utensils or share other things like that. So just thinking about all those things that can minimize the risk of becoming infected and getting sick," Yasmin explained.
Can You Start Planning Vacations Again After Getting Vaccinated?
While getting the COVID-19 vaccine may make you excited for the future, Yasmin said to temper your expectations.
"Not everyone in the world has access to vaccines right now. If, for example, you live in the States and you want to go back to my home country of the U.K., it's going to be a bit of a nightmare right now, because they're requiring people quarantine in hotels at their own expense for quite a long time. We're going to have to keep our eye on the rest of the world, think about where is it we're trying to have getaways to — a new variant spreading in that place, how well is that country vaccinating others? We might, at least for the next few months, Dr. Oz, be thinking more about domestic getaways, especially as I'm quite optimistic about many more millions of Americans receiving the two shots of the vaccines in the coming weeks and months," Yasmin said.