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Yes, you still have to wear a mask and social distance after getting the COVID-19 vaccine

We spoke with ADPH and an infectious disease expert to hear what you should keep in mind after getting the vaccine to keep us all safe.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Once you get both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, you could be itching to get back to “normal”.

But, right now, is that what you should do? 

Our team spoke with ADPH and an infectious disease expert to hear what you should keep in mind after getting the vaccine-- as we're at a tipping point in our fight against COVID-19.

Once you’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19,  is it okay for you to go back to the way you lived life before the pandemic? Is it safe to go to big gatherings and even be around others without wearing a mask?

Experts say— no.

Dr. Ali Hassoun tells our reporter, “We have not reached that stage yet. We are going to need to continue with all the prevention methods we can do.” 

Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease expert with Huntsville Hospital, says he knows this might confuse some people. He explains, “They might say ‘Then why did we get vaccinated?'. The idea from the vaccination is we want to reduce transmission of the virus and as we are able to reduce transmission, we’ll cut down on the number of the virus’s reported cases.”

We spoke with Dr. Karen Landers, the Assistant State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health. She says even after you finish your vaccine shot series, keep wearing your mask and social distancing. She wants to clear up some common misconceptions about protection from the vaccine. Dr. Landers adds, “When you take your first dose, you’re not protected against COVID-19 and when you take your second dose, it’s going to be at least 2 two weeks after that second dose before the body has the opportunity to have a full immune response.” 

Is it safe to travel once you’re vaccinated? 

Dr. Hassoun advises, “If we’re able to have a significant number of vaccinated people, less cases, more reported immunity- then that’s the time to think about the possibility of travel. So, at the moment, it’s only essential-- for something that you need to do.” 

Some are forming “vaccine bubbles” and gathering with people who they know have completed their vaccines without masks. We asked the experts if this is a good idea. 

Dr. Ali Hassoun says, “Your chances of getting infected with people in your bubble all being vaccinated will be much less. But again, I want to emphasize, we continue to have significant transmission at the moment. So, the worry is, while we’re having this transmission, even though you’re vaccinated you might be shedding the virus. You don’t have symptoms but you might be spreading it to others.” 

Dr. Karen Landers says there's definitely a risk in doing this and encourages everyone to stick to the CDC guidelines we've followed throughout the pandemic. She adds, “I don’t think we have complete data to recommend that people alter the mitigation standards at this time.” 

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