In February 2021, the FDA approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine following the December 2020 approval of the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Find answers to common questions regarding this latest development in the fight against COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Amir Moheb Mohareb, MD, of the Infectious Diseases Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, answers some questions on the new guidelines.
You can learn more information about COVID-19 vaccines here.
Once I’m fully vaccinated, is it safe to gather indoors with others?
Potentially. The answer depends on with whom you’re gathering.
- If they are all also fully vaccinated, yes, you can gather indoors in small groups without wearing a mask or following social distancing guidelines
- If they are not fully vaccinated, but from one household and at low-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, yes, you can gather indoors in small groups without wearing masks or social distancing. An example of this would be a fully vaccinated grandparent visiting with their grandchild who is unvaccinated but at low risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19.
- If they are not fully vaccinated and are from multiple households or not fully vaccinated and at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, no, you are not advised to gather indoors.
What if after I’m fully vaccinated, I come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person?
The updated guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to stay away from others or get tested for COVID-19 unless you develop symptoms or live in a group setting. There may still be some specific situations where additional precautions (such as isolation or testing) would be advised, so be sure to speak to your doctor if this happens.
Do I still need to wear a mask and social distance when leaving my home?
While the vaccines are highly effective against severe illness and hospitalization, they are not 100% effective at preventing you from getting COVID-19. Additionally, we’re still gathering data on how effective the vaccines are against the new variants of the virus.
We are also still learning how effective they are at preventing transmission of the disease to others.