As more people get vaccinated for COVID-19, the urge to return to our pre-pandemic life is growing. But before you toss out all safety precautions, find out what the health experts say is safe to do and still poses a risk.
If you have received both doses of a COVID vaccine, your risk of contracting the virus is dramatically reduced but HuffPo spoke to health experts who stress this does not mean life can just go completely back to normal -- noting that herd immunity will only occur when at least 70 percent of the population has been vaccinated.
Also, early research indicates vaccines may reduce virus transmission, but more data and research are needed before life gets back to normal. For example, we are not entirely sure if vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to unvaccinated. It is also important to note the vaccine is not foolproof and 1 in 20 vaccinated people contract the virus after getting the shots. It should be noted so far hospitalizations, severe disease, and death are drastically lower in people who get the vaccine.
So nothing is 100% safe after being vaccinated, but here are some things that are safer and some that may still pose a risk:
Is It Safe to Go to a Home and Not Wear Masks Where Everyone Has Been Vaccinated?
Likely low risk - “If you are getting together with people who you know are vaccinated and have two doses, you probably do not need to wear a mask because even if you, for some reason, were an asymptomatic carrier and gave it to them, the likelihood of them getting really sick is going to be low," the University of California, San Francisco epidemiology professor Krysia Lindan says, noting each person's overall health and if someone has an underlying condition should be taken into consideration.
Can I Go to Restaurants Now?
Potentially risky - The experts say indoor dining is still risky, especially for others around you who may not be vaccinated and suggest if you are eating at a restaurant, to make sure it is outdoors (and we're not talking about an outdoor tent!), and to wear a mask when not eating.
Is Travel Safe Now?
Potentially risky - Like dining indoors, there is still a risk to unvaccinated individuals, and stress face masks and possibly a face shield be used when flying. Also, are you traveling to an area where you are likely to be encountering a population of people who are not vaccinated in high numbers?
What about Gyms, Salons and the Dentist?
Potentially risky - The experts note if all COVID safety precautions are taken at these locations and all parties are wearing masks the risk is lowered for each person (vaccinated or not), but that the risk of virus transmission is still possible. The experts say all safety precautions are still needed for these activities
Health experts note there is still so much to learn about the virus and how well and long the vaccines will protect us. The CDC currently advises "wear a mask over your nose and mouth, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often" even after getting both doses of the vaccine.
It is important to remember COVID-19 is an everyone-issue, not a me-issue. All health experts stress that getting the vaccine is just one step in how we get past it.
"[Being vaccinated is] a big step forward in getting beyond this, but we’re going to get beyond this as a community, not as individuals.” Loyola University immunologist and biology professor Chris Thompson tells HuffPo.