Updated May 14, 2021
Update: On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidelines for fully vaccinated people. People who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by laws, rules, or regulations established by a government, business, or workplace.
Please note: All visitors to UPMC facilities, including hospitals or ambulatory locations, must continue to wear a facemask that covers their nose and mouth, even after they are fully vaccinated. For more information, see our updated visitor policy. We thank everyone for their cooperation.
The FDA has authorized three vaccines for use in the United States. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines each require two shots spaced several weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccine currently requires only one shot.
Millions of Americans have received the vaccines and are now considered fully vaccinated. As more people become fully vaccinated, they can resume many activities without masking or physically distancing.
What Does Fully Vaccinated Mean?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you are considered fully vaccinated if:
- At least two weeks have passed since you received the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine
- At least two weeks have passed since you received the single dose of the J&J vaccine
If less than two weeks have passed since your final dose, or you have received only one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you are not fully vaccinated. You should continue to follow all preventive measures to protect against COVID-19 spread.
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What Should I Do After Being Fully Vaccinated?
You should continue to follow any laws and regulations, including business and work guidelines, about mask-wearing and other COVID-19 preventive efforts like physical distancing.
You should also stay aware of COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick.
On April 2, 2021, the CDC announced people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the United States. Unless required by their destination, they do not have to get tested before or after travel, and they do not have to self-quarantine. Fully vaccinated travelers should still wear a facemask, keep 6 feet of social distance, and wash their hands frequently, the CDC says.
Do I Have to Wear a Mask After I’ve Been Fully Vaccinated?
The CDC has released updated guidelines for mask-wearing among fully vaccinated Americans. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can participate in many activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by law or regulation.
Activities fully vaccinated people can participate in without a mask include:
- Walking, running, wheelchair rolling, or biking outdoors with members of your household
- Attending a small outdoor gathering with family and friends who are fully vaccinated
- Attending a small outdoor gathering with people who are not fully vaccinated
- Dining at an outdoor establishment with people from multiple households
- Attending a crowded outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event
- Gathering indoors with people who are fully vaccinated
- Attending a small indoor gathering with a mixture of fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated people from multiple households
- Visiting a barber or hair salon
- Going to an uncrowded indoor shopping center or museum
- Going to an indoor movie theater
- Attending a full-capacity worship service
- Singing in an indoor chorus
- Participating in an indoor, high-intensity exercise class
- Going to an indoor restaurant or bar
When choosing activities, you should keep in mind the number of people participating, the location, and how COVID-19 is spreading in the community. In general, outdoor or well-ventilated gatherings with fewer people are better.
Fully vaccinated people should continue to wear a mask in health care settings and where required by law or regulation, including business and workplace guidances.
At UPMC, we are still requiring all visitors to our facilities, including hospitals and ambulatory locations, to wear a mask, even if they are fully vaccinated.
Other situations where fully vaccinated people should continue to wear a mask include:
- On buses, trains, planes, and other forms of public transportation
- In transportation hubs like airports, bus stations, and train stations
- In other crowded indoor locations
Vaccination does not guarantee that you will not get sick from COVID-19 or be contagious to others if you are exposed to the virus. If you start to experience COVID-19 symptoms, you should quarantine and call your doctor about getting tested for COVID-19 — even if you have been vaccinated.
Also, if you are immunocompromised — from a medical condition like cancer, HIV, diabetes, or transplant or from certain medical treatments — talk to your doctor. People with compromised immune systems are less likely to have a good immune response to the vaccine and may remain vulnerable to COVID-19, even after vaccination. If you or a loved one is immunocompromised, you may still need to practice preventive efforts like mask-wearing even after vaccination.
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What Should I Do If I’m Exposed to COVID-19 After Being Vaccinated?
According to the CDC, if you are fully vaccinated, you do not have to quarantine after being exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 as long as you are not experiencing symptoms.
The CDC says fully vaccinated people should still monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after exposure. If you begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms in that time, you should quarantine and get tested for COVID-19. Let your provider know your vaccination status when you get tested.
- People who live in large, non-health care group settings like correctional and detention facilities or group homes should still quarantine and get tested after being exposed to suspected or confirmed COVID-19, even if they’re fully vaccinated. Such settings have a higher resident turnover and higher risk of transmission, the CDC says.
- Fully vaccinated people who work in large, non-health care settings like processing or manufacturing plants do not have to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 if they are not experiencing symptoms. The CDC does recommend getting tested after exposure.
If you are not yet fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for 14 days after exposure and monitor yourself for symptoms. If symptoms develop, call your doctor.
When Will Life Get Back to Normal?
The authorization and distribution of the three COVID-19 vaccines are important developments in getting back to normal. So is the ongoing development of other potential COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and/or tests.
Although millions of Americans have already received vaccines, it likely will take months to distribute the vaccine to enough people to stop the COVID-19 spread. Although the new CDC guidelines are a promising step, the pandemic is not over.
“Pandemics are dynamic,” Dr. Snyder says. “It’s important to note that this is guidance for today, and there’s a possibility in the future we may have to restrict activities again. I hope this is part of a stepwise process. As we do better in the pandemic, we can continue to make incremental changes toward normalcy.”
Please be patient and continue to follow COVID-19 prevention efforts like wearing a mask and social distancing where required. These efforts help to save lives.
For more information, visit UPMC.com/COVID19.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, When You've Been Fully Vaccinated. Link
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.