Cheat sheet: CDC guidelines on what you can and can't do after being fully vaccinated

Once you get the COVID-19 vaccine and wait two weeks, the CDC has new guidance for socializing, travel and masking

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Saturday, March 13, 2021
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After you receive the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, what can you safely do? An infectious disease specialist answers your questions.

As vaccinations continue to roll out, the Centers for Disease Control released guidelines on what people can do after they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated means it's been two weeks since you've received your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks since you received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

Life may soon start to have a semblance of normalcy, but just because you're vaccinated doesn't mean you can run amok, living it up pre-pandemic style.

Here's a quick guide on what you can -- and still can't do -- after you're vaccinated, according to the CDC:


Can I see my friends and family once I'm fully vaccinated?

Yes! Don't throw a big party with everyone you know, but the CDC admits socializing becomes a lot safer once vaccines are involved. The guidelines differ based on whether the people you want to see are also vaccinated.

  • With vaccinated people, you can gather indoors without masks
  • With unvaccinated people, you can gather indoors without masks with members of one household only -- as long as none of your unvaccinated friends/family are at high risk. That means you still want to avoid seeing unvaccinated elderly people or those with underlying conditions that would make a potential COVID-19 infection particularly severe, just to be extra safe.

What about large gatherings?

The CDC is still advising against medium-sized and large gatherings, even if you're fully vaccinated.


Do I have to wear a mask if I'm still vaccinated?

Being vaccinated doesn't exempt you from local and state ordinances on wearing masks or face coverings in public. While the CDC says you can socialize with members of one household indoors and unmasked, the agency still recommends wearing a mask when around lots of people, in public or running errands if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. However, Bay Area health officials announced on Aug. 2 that people must wear masks when indoors in a public setting, whether they are vaccinated or not.

You should continue to wear a mask or face covering, plus practice 6-feet distancing when:

  • Socializing with people from more than one household indoors
  • Visiting with people who are at high risk for COVID-19 and unvaccinated
  • Indoors in public


Can I travel now that I'm fully vaccinated?

If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel. You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States. You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it. You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States. You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel. You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.


Do I need to self-quarantine if I am exposed to COVID-19?

If you've been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don't have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

If you start to have symptoms, you should self-quarantine and get tested, says the CDC.

See the full guidelines from the CDC here.