If you, like half of the US population, have recently been vaccinated against COVID, you may be making an effort to re-adjust to a new normal – this time a relative freedom. But for many people, it is difficult to imagine returning to our pre-pandemic ways after spending more than a year on high alert.
For now, that might be a good thing. While you are finally getting COVID jab, that means you can start reassessing your risk level, but there is a good case to be made for careful and gradual re-entry. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that there are still certain activities that pose more risk than others, and that most social scenarios still require masks for optimal safety ̵
A key to your safety after vaccination is knowing the vaccine status of others with whom you come together. The fewer fully vaccinated people in a given group, the more likely you are to get a breakthrough infection.
The CDC points out that because children are currently unable to be vaccinated, limit the number of households with children gathered at one time, and children should continue to wear masks when coming with others. The health authority says that vaccinated adults can participate in this type of event without a mask, as long as it is held outdoors, but advises to continue wearing a mask inside with unvaccinated persons. And for more COVID vaccine news sent directly to your inbox, Sign up for our daily newsletter.
Before and after vaccination, plan to avoid indoor settings with poor ventilation. This is one of the highest risk environments because aerosolized droplets can linger longer in the air in places with limited airflow, the CDC says. So far, this may exclude malls, cinemas, casinos, elevators, certain types of public transportation, some bars and restaurants and more. And for more on your risk after vaccination, the CDC warns you to avoid this place even if you are vaccinated.
According to CDC guidelines, “fully vaccinated people can participate in many outdoor activities without a low-risk mask for themselves or others.”
However, being outdoors can create a false sense of security considering that certain outdoor activities are still considered risky – for example, a crowded outdoor concert. For now, you must continue to wear a mask whenever you expect to be in a crowd, the CDC says.
According to the CDC’s guidelines, activities involving “singing, shouting, physical exertion or other heavy breathing” are considered a higher risk, even after vaccination. To safely participate in this type of activity (for example, training classes or other group sports, choir singing, or religious services that require participation), plan to wear a mask and remove where possible. And for more on places you should continue to avoid, the CDC says these are the “least safe” places you go right now.