The vaccine alone won’t stop the spread of COVID-19 right away. Still, it's a major breakthrough in preventing serious illness from COVID-19 and needs to be used in combination with other prevention methods.
These vaccines have been proven to effectively prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. However, it’s still possible that some vaccinated people could get infected without developing symptoms. This means people who are vaccinated could silently be spreading the virus, especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.
When in public, people need to continue to practice the 3Ws – wear a mask, wait at least 6 feet away, and wash your hands frequently.
It is important to remember that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and are still at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can:
- Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. For example, you can visit unvaccinated relatives who all live together or an unvaccinated friend without a mask. If any of the people you are visiting has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and are not vaccinated, wear a mask.
If you’ve been around or exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
Even when you are fully vaccinated, you should:
- Wear a mask in public.
- Stay socially distant, at least 6 feet, from unvaccinated people at high-risk for COVID-19.
- Practice good hand sanitation.
- Keep your indoor gatherings small – 2 total households.
- Avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
- Delay domestic and international travel.
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.
We learn more about how long vaccination protection lasts and as more people become protected through vaccination over time. It's estimated at 70-85% of people will need to receive a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19.