CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - COVID cases and deaths from the virus continue to be on a downward trend in South Carolina.
More than 1.7 million total doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been given in South Carolina. But doctors say just because you’ve gotten your vaccine does not mean life should be entirely back to normal for you.
“Being fully vaccinated does open things for you a little bit,” Dr. Melissa Ellis-Yarian said.
She works with Roper St. Francis Express Care and explained what it means to be “fully vaccinated.”
“You’re considered fully vaccinated after you have had both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna, the two dose regiments. Two weeks after you’ve had that second dose, you’re considered protected,” she explained. “If you get the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, then two weeks after that second dose you’re considered protected. That will influence what you’re able to do.”
Here’s what’s changed once you’re vaccinated, according to the CDC:
- You can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
- You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household - if they are low risk - without wearing a mask.
- If you’re exposed to someone with the virus, you don’t need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms or live in a group setting.
Ellis-Yarian still encourages vaccinated patients to wear masks around unvaccinated people to be considerate. “It’s important that people remember there are a lot of people who haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated yet.”
The CDC still wants vaccinated people to be cautious in public, avoid medium and large gatherings, delay travel plans, get tested and stay home if you have symptoms, and follow the rules at your work.
We asked Ellis-Yarian why you still have to wear your mask and social distance in public if you’ve already had the vaccine.
“The data has shown these vaccines are very effective in preventing people from getting really sick from COVID and preventing death,” she said. “Which is amazing. But what we’re still learning is whether or not these vaccines prevent the spread of COVID from others. So theoretically it is possible a vaccinated person could be exposed to someone with COVID, not become sick themselves, but pass it on to another person who’s not vaccinated.”
The CDC says early data show the vaccines may help prevent COVID-19 from spreading, but the agency says we are “learning more as more people get vaccinated.” We are also still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of coronavirus and how long your vaccine protection lasts, they said.
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