Fully vaccinated? Get the facts

By Mayo Clinic Staff

December 16, 2021

Poster for video

New COVID-19 guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated

Melanie Swift, M.D., COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution, Mayo Clinic: The promise of vaccine all along has been getting back to life as normal, and we can see a little glimmer of that now, which is very exciting. But you do need to understand what it means to be fully vaccinated.

Being fully vaccinated means that you have finished your vaccine, whether that’s one dose or two, and two weeks have passed. You do need two weeks for your immune system to mount its full response. You are then considered fully immunized.

If you’re fully vaccinated, you can now be safely with other people in your private life, in your home or their home, if they are also fully immunized. So that means you can have a friend over for dinner if you are fully vaccinated. And you don’t have to stay six feet apart.

If you’re fully vaccinated, you can be in the same house, unmasked in close proximity to someone who’s unvaccinated who’s low risk. It needs to be limited to two households together at one time. A grandparent that’s fully vaccinated and doesn’t live with their grandchild who’s unvaccinated can now safely give that child a hug.

When you start bringing in people from multiple households, then you really do start to increase the risk of transmission.

If you’re fully vaccinated, when you’re at work and when you’re in public, just assume that there are people around you that are probably unvaccinated and keep your mask on.

It takes a long time to vaccinate a country and we do need to keep our morale up. We do need to give people a glimpse, a little motivation for sticking with the precautions where they need to so that they can stay motivated to keep our community safe so that everyone can get back to normal.

Key takeaways

After you are fully vaccinated, you can more safely return to doing activities that you might not have been able to do because of the pandemic. However, if you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public and outdoors in crowded areas or when you are in close contact with unvaccinated people.

You’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you get your second dose of a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or two weeks after a single dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Currently, there is no time limit after vaccination on your fully vaccinated status.

A small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. These are called vaccine breakthrough infections.

People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread COVID-19 to others. However, it appears that vaccinated people spread COVID-19 for a shorter period than do unvaccinated people.

Vaccination also might make illness less severe. If you are fully vaccinated, the overall risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 is much lower than among unvaccinated people with similar risk factors.

More about being fully vaccinated from COVID-19