It’s official - almost 50% of the United States is vaccinated against COVID-19, which means that millions of people are ready to finish summer out strong and protected.
With so many people receiving their vaccine, restrictions put in place to slow the spread have been eased considerably. That said, it’s still a good idea to stay smart and stay safe. It’s not always easy to know what’s permissible and what’s not, though, in this ever-changing atmosphere, which is why we put together this article to help make this vaccinated environment a bit clearer.
Moving forward is the goal for everyone, but we have to do it smartly. Pharmacies can help patients step into the future with their vaccinations while still being cautious about the virus that’s prone to variants and mutations.
The CDC says that those who qualify as fully vaccinated are:
● Free of symptoms two weeks after their second dose of the two-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna)
● Free of symptoms two weeks after a single-dose shot (Johnson & Johnson)
Partial vaccinations (one shot of the two-dose series) provides a good amount of protection, but patients are still advised to get both shots if the series calls for it.
Similarly, the vaccine can provide a good deal of protection against the virus, but like all other types of vaccines, it’s not an impenetrable shield. Even vaccinated patients should still be exercising caution when enjoying the summer wind-down.
Activities Safe for Vaccinated Patients
The summer weather is still upon us, and many people want to be outdoors. Luckily, the outdoors is the safest place to be - even for those who are vaccinated.
The CDC recommends keeping gatherings small, even if they are occurring outside. But if everyone in attendance is vaccinated, there’s no reason to put off gatherings that you’ve been looking forward to for a while, like summer parties or barbecues.
Here’s a list of activities that are safe to take part in:
● Outdoor exercising
● Outdoor gatherings
● Indoor AND outdoor dining
● Outdoor live events like concerts, sports events, or parades
Traveling With The Vaccine
Until you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends putting traveling on hold. But once you have both shots (or one shot, for those who took Johnson & Johnson), you can feel free to travel domestically without getting tested or self quarantining before or after traveling.
Even vaccinated people may need to show proof of a negative test result before re-entering the country, just to remain on the safe side of the pandemic. Even for international flights, vaccinated people can hold off on testing before boarding and don’t have to self-quarantine when they return, either. This is a new update on the protocols for international flights.
While the United States may have this outlook on international travel, it’s important to remember that other countries might not be in the same phase of the pandemic recovery yet. Many countries are still operating under strict travel regulations, so it’s important to remind patients to look into that specific country’s restrictions and requirements. They may need to provide proof of vaccination, a negative test, or undergo quarantine before/after entering a foreign country.
Best Practices for Patients and Pharmacies
It’s important to note that, while the vaccine numbers are hopeful and positive, the world is nowhere near free of COVID yet. It’s beyond necessary to continue to take the correct precautions at your local pharmacy regarding your staff and general practices, and remember to encourage your patients to do the same.
These new CDC suggestions are just that - suggestions. They cannot and do not replace current or future regulations when it comes to federal, state, and local laws. Those types of laws still apply and local businesses (including yours) can choose to still enforce mask wearing, routine testing, and social distancing if they so choose.
Vaccinated patients are considered safe for now, but just because they have the vaccine doesn’t mean that they are permanently immune. It’s still possible for them to contract and spread COVID-19 - but if they contract it, it likely won’t be life-threatening or even worthy of hospitalization. It’s still wise to remember that it’s still extremely easy to spread, though.
The CDC will continue to monitor the activity of COVID-19 worldwide, and your pharmacy should stay clued in to any new information regarding updated protocols. If your pharmacy stays informed, your patients will stay informed, and that makes for a healthy, safe community.