TAMPA, Fla. — Florida lowered the age for vaccine eligibility this week to people 40 years and older. On April 5th, the age drops to 18.
That means more and more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, which is the only way to create herd immunity. Doctors say while getting vaccinated is a step toward 'normalcy', you shouldn't let it replace all the safety precautions you've been taking over the last year, especially in order to enjoy the holiday weekend with friends and family.
Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor of public health at the University of South Florida says, "A vaccine does not prevent you from getting the disease. It reduces the severity of the disease if you should get it, and you can still get sick and pass it on to others."
If you're one of the many who have received a first dose of Moderna or Pfizer or a single shot of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine this week, you're not fully vaccinated yet. Full vaccination happens two weeks after your final shot. Until then, the CDC's relaxed gathering guidelines do not apply.
Even when you are fully vaccinated, in public settings you still need to do all you can to help protect others who have not yet been vaccinated. Continue to avoid large gatherings of people, socially distance yourself from others, wear a mask and wash your hands when possible. You should not visit unvaccinated people with a high risk of illness from COVID-19 or people who live with someone who is more at risk. Continue to monitor symptoms of the virus and get tested if you feel sick or if you've been exposed. Follow safety guidelines at work and at businesses.
If you have been fully vaccinated, meaning it's been two weeks since your final vaccine dose, the CDC says you can do the following:
- You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
- You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks 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.
- However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
When it comes to both domestic and international travel, the CDC says you should wait, since travel always increases the risk of exposure and spread of the virus. If you do travel, get tested 1-3 days before your trip and 3-5 days after your trip. Avoid crowds and wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you're within enclosed spaces.
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