By Rebecca Roybal Jones

Quest for Immunity

Experts Warn Against Mingling With Others Even After You’ve Been Vaccinated

If you’re planning on booking a trip or hosting a party after you’ve received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, it’s best to hold off on doing so. 

In fact, says Melissa Martinez, MD, a professor of Internal Medicine with expertise in studying vaccines, you probably shouldn’t make any plans to travel this year.

So much is still unknown about whether the virus can still be transmitted by those who have received the vaccine that the best course of action is to continue doing what you’ve been doing for nearly a year now, says Martinez, who also is director of the UNM Health Vaccine Clinic at The Pit.

That means that even after you’ve received both doses, you should continue to limit your errands, such as trips to the grocery store, and continue to wear a face mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands thoroughly and often, she says.

“Everybody needs to know that it takes a full week after the second dose for full immunity,” she says.

While scientists are still investigating how long the vaccine will last after you’ve received both doses, it could be that people will have to be inoculated each year, similar to the flu vaccine, she says.

It’s also unknown when we’ll all be able to stop wearing face masks and begin to gather with others.

“Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an advisory.

“Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself.”

Quoting a colleague, Martinez says, “Immunizations aren’t perfect, wearing masks aren’t perfect, washing hands isn’t perfect, social distancing isn’t perfect . . . but all of those things combined together can really help protect people. Really what we’re trying to do is decrease how much disease is in the population.”

“There’s a lot of unknowns about the vaccine but it’s still our best hope,” Martinez adds.

Sign up for the vaccine on the N.M. Department of Health website.

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