The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The new guidelines, based on the latest science and research, said those who have been vaccinated can start to do some of the things they've stopped doing because of the pandemic.

In line with the CDC, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said masks will no longer be required outdoors, and mass gathering limits will increase to 100 people indoors and to 200 outdoors. The new mandate, which goes into effect April 30, comes a week after Cooper announced he expects to end many COVID-19 restrictions starting June 1.

While being outside is safer than indoor activities, the CDC said vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk. People are asked to consider how COVID-19 is spreading in their community, the number of people participating in an event, and the location.

What you can start to do if you're vaccinated:

  • Gather outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues.
  • Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

A person is fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of the vaccine. While vaccinated individuals can safely resume some lower-risk activities, studies suggest that mask wearing, and social distancing is important as people continue to get the vaccine. Dr. Genevieve Brauning at Novant Health SouthPark Family Physicians explained why and shared some helpful do’s and don’ts following your vaccination.

DO continue to social distance

We do know that you can carry and transmit the virus – even if you've been vaccinated. You may not feel sick or have symptoms, but you can still be an asymptomatic carrier. Because of that, you could be a risk to other people who aren't vaccinated. This is why we continue to ask most people to social distance and avoid indoor crowds.

In addition to possibly being a carrier, there is still about a 5% chance a vaccinated person could contract COVID-19. If the incidence of disease is high enough, which we’re seeing with COVID-19, that 5% could add up to a lot of people.

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DO get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

Getting only one dose of the vaccine is about 50% effective, so it’s important to get both doses to be better protected. Keep in mind that it takes two weeks after the second dose to reach 95% efficacy.

Also, if you receive the first dose, you have the advantage of being reserved a spot for a second dose and that’s a luxury. People are clamoring for those spots. So, if you’re going to embark on this process of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, let's go ahead and do it the right way.

DO anticipate side effects

Expected effects after receiving the vaccine include low-grade fever, chills, fatigue, headache and pain or swelling in the arm where you got the shot. It may feel like the flu or even affect your ability to do daily activities, but the effects are short-lived and, most importantly, normal signs the body is building protection to the virus. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Some say the anticipated effects are more robust after receiving the second dose. Just know it’s not something to be scared of. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce pain or discomfort.

DO exercise caution when you travel

One of my concerns with traveling has been that it’s highly likely for you to catch something because you're around so many different people in an airport or an airplane. However, once you’ve received both COVID-19 vaccines, you’re pretty well protected and you can feel safer about traveling. Even so, people are still encouraged to practice social distancing as best they can, while also wearing a mask anytime they are not eating or drinking.

DO NOT leave immediately after receiving the vaccine

It is recommended that people wait 15 minutes before leaving the vaccination site – just to be certain that there is not an allergic reaction. While a reaction is rare, it’s important to wait for a short period of time while there is medical supervision. Those who have a history of adverse reactions to injections are advised to wait 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes. Patients should also tell their provider if they've had a bad reaction to an injection in the past.