Is it safe to travel?
The CDC is still recommending that all Americans stay home. But if you must travel, it’s safer if you’ve been fully vaccinated and it’s been 2 weeks since your last dose. If you haven’t been vaccinated, you should get a coronavirus test 1-3 days before your trip. Get another test 3-5 days after your return and quarantine for 7 days after travel, even if you test negative. If you choose not to get tested, quarantine for 10 days. Everyone should continue to wear a mask in public. Avoid crowds. And stay 6 feet away from anyone you haven’t traveled with.
If you’ve been vaccinated and you’re going to be with others who’ve also been vaccinated, it’s okay to get together indoors without masks or social distancing. It’s also okay to see others from an unvaccinated household as long as they are not in the high risk group for severe COVID-19 illness (example – children).
If I’ve had COVID-19, how long should I wait to get the vaccine?
If you were sick with symptoms from COVID-19, wait to get the vaccine until you are fully recovered with no symptoms. Some epidemiologists recommend waiting 3 months from the date you began to feel sick, or you received antibodies or plasma. If you were asymptomatic, wait at least 2 weeks after your positive test to get the vaccine. Evidence suggests that the chance of reinfection in the first 3 months after having COVID-19 is low.
If I have an upcoming surgery or procedure can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?
There are no solid recommendations about the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine with planned surgeries or procedures. The vaccination does have an effect on your immune system (in a good way) and can cause aches and fevers. For this reason, you might want to time the vaccinations to be completed 2 weeks before a surgery/procedure or to start at least 2 weeks afterward.
What about the side effects from the COVID-19 vaccinations?
Everybody reacts differently to the vaccinations but it is normal to have redness, discomfort, and swelling on the arm where the injection was given. You can also have fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. These may last from 24 hours to a few days. If you’re receiving the 2-dose injections, the second shot might cause more side effects than the first. This is because the first shot primed your immune system to respond and the second shot puts it into high gear to fend off the virus. So this is a good thing! If you don’t have any symptoms at all, that’s okay. Be assured your immune system is still protecting you.
Can I get other vaccinations if I’ve just had the COVID-19 vaccine?
You can get the flu vaccine or others (example – shingles) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Separate the vaccinations by a month so that if you have any side effects, you’re not doubling up on them. The flu vaccine is especially important for anyone 6 months and older. Avoiding the flu can reduce the risk of flu hospitalizations and confusion with COVID-19 symptoms. Remember, flu season can extend all the way into May.
Should I worry about getting the 2-dose vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna) versus the 1-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson)?
Both types of injections provide the same overall protection from COVID-19 and have similar side effects. None of the injections are live vaccines. It’s important to get any of the vaccines as soon as you can. Indications are that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might have faced a tougher test because it was trialed against the variants that weren’t present when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested. At this point, it is likely that all the vaccines are equally efficient. They all have 85% effectiveness in preventing SEVERE COVID-19 symptoms such as those leading to ICU admissions or death. And the more of us that get vaccinated, the less chance of more variants popping up.