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Tips from a COVID-19 Case Investigator: I’m Vaccinated. Now What?

By LINDSEY FENNER

As more neighbors and loved ones are getting vaccinated, we’re entering a hopeful yet complicated time of the pandemic. If you’re like me, only some people in your household or social group are fully vaccinated (I’ll probably be last on the list!). This means while there are some things fully vaccinated people can do with other fully vaccinated people, they should be careful when they’re around folks who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

First a definition: “Fully vaccinated” means someone who has completed their full vaccine series (2 shots for a 2-dose series like Moderna/Pfizer, and 1 shot for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine) and it has been at least 2 weeks since they had their final dose. Had one shot of a two-dose vaccine? Nope, not fully vaccinated. Had your last shot yesterday? Still not fully vaccinated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with new guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated last month. This guidance attempts to balance our need for social connection with what we still don’t know about how the vaccines reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The COVID vaccines approved in the US have shown a really remarkable ability to prevent death or serious illness from COVID-19. But, like most vaccines, they don’t work 100%. Very rarely, people who are vaccinated can still become infected with COVID. This is called “vaccine breakthrough,” and MDH keeps track of people who test positive who have been fully vaccinated. So far, it seems like these instances have been very uncommon, and people have had zero or extremely mild symptoms. And although fully vaccinated people are unlikely to get seriously ill, we’re still getting information on how much vaccinated folks can still spread the virus if they get infected.

New CDC guidance for if you’ve been fully vaccinated (as of March 9, 2021):

What’s Changed

If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

What Hasn’t Changed

For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:
  1. In public
  2. Gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household
  3. Visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
  • You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
  • You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.

Many more people are eligible to get vaccinated in Minnesota, and it is changing rapidly. Visit https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/ to see who’s eligible, find vaccination sites near you, and sign up for the Vaccine Connector, a tool that helps Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Lindsey lives in East Phillips and has been working a pandemic reassignment for almost a year as a COVID-19 Case Investigator for local public health. The pandemic isn’t over yet, but we’re getting SO close!

For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504, Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS LINE

Call: **CRISIS (**274747)

COVID COMMUNITY COORDINATORS: Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES):

651-768-0000, Mon – Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm (Spanish)

Cultural Wellness Center:

612-249-9528, Monday – Friday 24 hours; On call weekends (English)

Division of Indian Work:

651-304-9986, Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (English)

WellShare International:

612-254-7308 (Somali/English)

651-318-0051 (Spanish)

763-312-6362 (Oromo)

Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; On call evenings/weekends: English, Oromo, Spanish, Somali

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