Continue COVID-19 precautions after getting the vaccine

(AP Photo/Francois Mori, File) (Francois Mori, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

If you’ve gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, you may be wondering if pandemic precautions are still necessary.

According to Kristin Englund, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic, we can’t let our guard down just yet.

“While you may be protected, we still need to make sure that we’re still protecting all of those around us who may or may not have been vaccinated yet,” she said. “So, it’s still important for us to wear our masks, to keep social distancing and to make sure that we’re using hand sanitizer.”

Dr. Englund said it’s important to remember the first vaccine only offers about 50% protection.

About two weeks after the second vaccine, recipients are 95% protected from COVID-19.

But, we still need to protect those waiting, or unable, to get the vaccine.

Doctors are still trying to determine if someone who’s been vaccinated can carry and pass the virus to somebody who’s unvaccinated – so, precautions are still necessary.

Virus variants are another reason to continue COVID safety measures, just in case a variant emerges that isn’t covered by the vaccine.

So far, a small number of people in the United States have been fully vaccinated but it’s not enough to reach ‘herd immunity’ and toss our masks aside.

“Only once we get to probably about 70-80% of Americans being vaccinated are we really going to be able to let down our guard and be able to take off our masks and start to live a little bit more of a normal life,” Dr. Englund said.

If you’re spending time with people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Dr. Englund said safety rules still apply.

She said it’s important your circle stills adheres to masking, social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines to protect people outside of your bubble.