What becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 means for relaxing safety measures

Some people are celebrating becoming fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but a Maryland doctor warns that COVID-19 shots aren’t necessarily a ticket to a freer life for vacations, travel or completely abandoned safety protocols.

“Traveling is not recommended to be something that you do for leisure if you can avoid it,” said Dr. Calvin Thomas Williams Jr., chief of infectious diseases at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore.

Stating that personal risk would be lower for people traveling while vaccinated, Williams also advised caution because of coronavirus variant strains.

“If you travel to a place and they have a variant — it’s not completely clear whether your vaccination will actually protect you from that variant; this is primarily true if you travel outside the United States,” he said.

Vaccinated people attending large events would have lower personal risk compared to people who are unvaccinated, but Williams still recommends everyone maintain safety measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.

“Keep in mind that not everyone’s had the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Williams said.

Williams also advises that fully vaccinated people who want to hop into a cab or hail an Uber driver continue to follow safety protocols such as wearing masks and hand washing.

“Vaccines do not stop you from getting infections,” Williams said. “The key is that the outcomes for you would be much less likely to be severe compared to someone who’s not vaccinated.”

It’s unclear whether or to what degree vaccinated people can spread the virus to vulnerable people.

As for indoor dining?

“I think the same precautions that you would take before you got vaccinated — you’ll continue to take those same precautions because you could still yourself be infected and therefore transmit to others,” Williams said.

Detailed guidance for fully vaccinated people who want to gather with friends and family in private settings can be found on the Centers for Disease control and Prevention website.

People still waiting to get vaccinated should not spend time contemplating whether they want the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or the one-shot Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

“It’s better for you to go and get vaccinated for whichever vaccine is available for you at that time,” Williams said. “Because as you wait, your risk of having a negative outcome if you should become infected is still there. And, there’s no obvious benefit of the two shot vaccines over the one shot vaccine in terms of their ability to keeping you from having the most severe negative consequences if you do get the coronavirus.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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