Tampa Bay health experts explain what to expect after being fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Posted at 6:36 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 18:36:32-05

TAMPA, Fla. — With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine getting the green light, the United States has another tool in the fight against COVID-19. As more people start to get vaccinated, Tampa Bay area health experts are giving you a glimpse of what you could expect after you are fully vaccinated.

“It leaves you with another layer of protection against the virus, but again, this is not 100 percent protection against the virus either,” said USF Health associate professor Dr. Michael Teng. “You can still get infected.”

ABC Action News took questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine to local health experts and asked if you and your family are fully vaccinated, or have gotten all the required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, if you can safely get together.

“It’s all about risk reduction right? So you know, you can get together. I would still say stay apart. Especially if you’re going to take off your masks, then try to do it outdoors, maintain good ventilation,” said Dr. Teng. “ It’s one of those things that it’s not the end of transmission. It’s not the end of getting infected. It’s another tool in the toolbox: it’s a big tool, it’s not a little screwdriver, it’s a big hammer, but it’s still just a hammer. It’s still just one more big tool in your toolbox to prevent transmission to prevent COVID.”

If you must travel, the CDC suggests, if you’re eligible, to get fully vaccinated and wait two weeks after getting your second dose to travel, explaining that it takes time for your body to build protection.

Dr. Laura Arline, Baycare Health System's Chief Quality Officer, says it takes two weeks after your last dose to be considered fully immunized. Arline explains if you’re older or if you have vulnerable health conditions despite being vaccinated, you may want to avoid higher-risk activities.

“Dining indoors, particularly in enclosed spaces, going to bars, or going into exercise facilities with the classes, that may still be something that you want to refrain from doing until enough of our population has been vaccinated to have that herd immunity that we’ve all been hearing about,” said Dr. Arline.

People who are vaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, are within three months after getting the last dose in a series and have remained asymptomatic, according to the CDC.

The CDC explains experts think getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get sick.

“I think that for a lot of people it does provide that extra reassurance that they’ve been immunized, and that, should they encounter COVID, that their immune system should kick into high gear and help to protect them from a serious illness,” said Dr. Arline.

The CDC says while the vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting sick, experts are still learning how well they prevent you from spreading the virus. Both Dr. Arline and Teng say even if you’re fully vaccinated, you will still need to wear a mask and social distance to protect yourself and others.