08:56 AM

You’re vaccinated. What can you do now?



Here’s what experts say fully vaccinated people can and can’t do – and why.

If you’ve already been vaccinated against COVID-19 or are among the millions in New Jersey still waiting their turn, you may be wondering what you can now safely do. New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives us those answers.

It’s important to know that most of these new guidelines apply to people who are fully vaccinated. This means people who are at least two weeks past receiving either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Only after these time periods will you be fully protected against the virus.

Here’s what the CDC says is now possible:

Everyone can go maskless when:

  • Walking, biking or running alone or with members of your own household
  • Attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people

Fully vaccinated people can go maskless to:

  • Gather indoors, unmasked with: 
    • Fully vaccinated people
    • Unvaccinated people from one other household, unless they or anyone they live with have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • Attend a small outdoor gathering with a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households
  • Travel within the U.S. without needing to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
  • Travel internationally, keeping in mind:
    • You do not need to get tested before leaving the U.S. unless your destination requires it.
    • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the U.S.
    • You should still get tested 3-5 days after arriving back in the U.S. but you do not need to self-quarantine
  • Skip quarantine or testing after you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, unless you have symptoms

Everyone should still: 

  • Wear a mask when you are:
    • At a crowded, outdoor event like a live performance, parade or sports event
    • Visiting with unvaccinated people from more than one other household indoors
    • Visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
  • Avoid medium or large-sized gatherings
  • Watch out for COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you've been around someone who is sick. You should get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, and stay home and away from others until you get your results

NJ State guidance on gatherings

The State of New Jersey has placed different limits on gatherings depending on the type and location. Note that masks are required in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

General indoor gatherings must be limited to 25 people. Gatherings for religious services and celebrations have larger allowances, up to 150 individuals depending on the venue.

Outdoor gatherings are generally limited to 200 people. No attendee limits apply to outdoor gatherings for wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, funerals, memorial services, religious activities or political activities. Check out this complete list of the limits on both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

To help you gather safely, here are some tips:

  • Try to host outdoor activities rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible.
  • For indoor gatherings, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors or running HVAC systems on continuous circulation.
  • Provide hand sanitizer.

What’s behind the updated CDC guidelines

The CDC issued this new guidance because we’re learning more every day about how effective the COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing symptomatic illness. In fact, all three of the authorized vaccines are nearly 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

That means fully vaccinated people are unlikely to get sick even if they’re infected. And if they do get sick, their symptoms won’t be severe.

However, it’s still unknown how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease. With most people still unvaccinated and cases stuck at a high level, that’s why in some situations even vaccinated people must still take preventive measures like mask-wearing to reduce the risk for everyone else.

The point is, to stop the pandemic and return to normal life, vaccination is key. Now, New Jersey residents can more easily find a vaccine appointment. A new online tool found at covid19.nj.gov/finder can take some stress out of the search for a vaccine, especially as more groups become eligible for a shot and vaccine supplies expand.