Information You Need: After getting the COVID vaccine, will I still need to take safety precautions?

The short answer is yes, you will still need to take safety precautions (e.g., wearing a cloth face covering, staying home when possible, practicing proper hand hygiene) after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, at least until enough people have been vaccinated in our community and transmission is low. Why is that?

Vaccines take time to provide immunity.

  • Receiving a COVID vaccine does not mean instant protection from COVID-19. 
  • It takes weeks after our body encounters the vaccine for our immune systems to create these antibodies. For the currently available vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer), it will take approximately two weeks after receiving the second dose of the vaccine to provide maximum protection. This means that you can still contract COVID-19 during the time your body is creating antibodies, which is why safety precautions like mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing are still necessary.

The currently available vaccines are very effective! But, they are not 100% effective.

  • All vaccines currently available are successes because they have prevented illness and death from COVID-19. The current vaccines are roughly 95% effective at preventing COVID-19, which is very high! For reference, the seasonal flu vaccine is 40-60% effective. However, as good as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are, 95% is not 100%, so there is still a possibility of contracting COVID-19 even after receiving a vaccine.

Vaccines work best when the majority of people receive them.

  • The exact percentage of people that are needed to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity is not yet known, but experts suggest that this number is close to 70% of the population. What we know for sure is that the more people who are vaccinated, the less likely it is that people that will become infected with COVID-19. 
  • We have a long way to go before 70% of the population receives a vaccination, so in the meantime it is important to continue physical distancing and taking extra precautions to protect those who have not yet been vaccinated. 
  • For more information about herd immunity, visit our previous update.

There is still research to be done!

  • We know that the COVID-19 vaccines reduce symptomatic cases, save lives, and they are proven to be safe and effective, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Scientists are still working to understand:
    • How long immunity lasts after taking the vaccines.
    • Whether or not vaccinated individuals can still carry or spread the virus to others.

Returning to normal will require a team effort. You can do your part by:

  • Staying home (except for essential activities)
  • Physical distancing
  • Wearing a cloth face covering while out in public
  • Washing your hands
  • And now, by getting your vaccine when it becomes available to you

For more information about the safety of these vaccines, visit our previous update.

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