If you are among the first people in the U.S. to receive your vaccine to prevent COVID-19, lucky you!
But, now what?
How can you stay safe and protect loved ones after getting your COVID-19 vaccine? What are the do’s and don’ts after getting your vaccine?
Can you gather up all your masks and pitch them in the trash? Can you revert to pre-pandemic norms and celebrate big milestones like birthdays and weddings in person with big groups of friends or hop on a plane for a long-awaited trip?
“We are not done. The shot is not your ticket to freedom. You’ve got to keep wearing your mask,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth and one of the top infectious disease experts in Colorado.
COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly safe and effective. And, we are extraordinarily fortunate to have vaccines so quickly, said Barron.
But, until millions of more people get their vaccines, those who have received either one or two doses of COVID-19 vaccines must act pretty much as we all have for nearly a year. That means we all need to keep wearing masks, washing our hands frequently, staying at least six feet away from people outside of our homes, avoiding indoor gatherings, and for now, connecting through online platforms.
Barron offers advice on moving forward even if you’ve gotten your COVID-19 vaccine and how to keep others who are waiting for their vaccines safe in the meantime.
Do we need to continue to wear masks even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. It’s critical to keep wearing masks. Barron said the virus that causes COVID-19 is still spreading widely throughout Colorado and the U.S. Until many more people get the vaccines and we can dramatically cut the spread of the virus, we need to keep wearing masks even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Once I get the vaccine, am I protected from COVID-19?
Once you get both doses of your COVID-19 vaccine (for those receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines), you will have excellent protection from the illness. But, it is possible for a person who has received a vaccine to get COVID-19. If they do, the case is likely to be much less severe and less deadly than it would be for a person who has not received a vaccine.
It’s also possible for people who have received vaccines to carry the virus that causes COVID-19 and unknowingly spread it to others.
“You could be a carrier and not be sick at all, and you could still be spreading the virus,” Barron said. “The vaccine can prevent you from getting sick, but it doesn’t prevent you from being infectious.”
When will life return to normal?
Of course, that’s the $64,000 question. No one knows exactly when we’ll be able to stop wearing masks and once again be able to behave normally again, Barron said.
“Optimistically, I’m hoping by the fall,” Barron said.
But, no one knows for sure.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been mutating. And the virus could continue to evolve. Fortunately, for now, vaccines are proving to be effective on new coronavirus mutations, Barron said. But now, one knows exactly how the virus will behave.
“It could mutate. It could die out.”
“If we look at the 1918 flu, it took almost two years before it finally died out. We’ve just got to hold the course,” Barron said.
How to get on the list for a vaccine through UCHealth
- How to sign up: People who’d like to sign up for the vaccine list at UCHealth can go to our website at uchealth.org/covidvaccine. Anyone can sign up – you don’t have to be a UCHealth patient. Those within the state’s current eligibility groups are being selected at random from this list and offered appointments.
- Hotline: UCHealth also has a vaccine hotline and phone number available, and anyone who doesn’t have access to a computer or smartphone can call that number to get on the list. This hotline is calling people to schedule appointments, and we have translation services available for more than 100 different languages. This is one important way we are working to make sure the vaccine is available to everyone regardless of income level, access to a computer, or language. The hotline phone number is 720-462-2255.
- Spanish hotline: Earlier this month, we also added a dedicated Spanish-language phone number to the UCHealth COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline. This number will provide a more seamless experience for those who speak Spanish. The Spanish hotline number is 844-945-2508
- Please, be patient: We know everyone is very anxious to get vaccinated and protected from this virus. We are thrilled that so many people are planning to get the vaccine. It will take some time to get it into everyone’s arms, so we ask that everyone remain patient. We all are working as fast as we can with the vaccine supplies we have. The more vaccine we receive, the more people we can vaccinate.