Okay, you’re vaccinated — now what?
Here’s a question from a reader:
My husband and I, along with many of our senior friends, are completing our vaccinations and looking forward to more freedom in the community. I know we will continue to wash hands frequently, wear masks and maintain distance when in public. But in what other activities might we participate?
Specifically, I’m wondering about the safety of a small dinner party with vaccinated attendees. And can we consider dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, plane flights or family gatherings?
— Elizabeth Hatcher, of Edmond
Dr. Prescott Prescribes
Congratulations on receiving your vaccinations! And kudos for continuing to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, because as much as we’d like to treat vaccines as get-out-of-jail-free cards, they’re not.
The virus and new, more contagious variants continue to circulate in the population, and while vaccination offers a good deal of protection, it’s still possible to be infected after getting your shots. Researchers are also studying whether people who’ve been vaccinated can still act as carriers, transmitting the virus to others.
A small dinner party with all attendees vaccinated would be the lowest-risk item on your list. I’d also be comfortable with taking a domestic plane flight, seeing family members and dining in occasionally at a restaurant.
That said, for each of the above, discretion is the better part of valor. In other words, choose your spots wisely, and don’t overdo it. That’s especially true for restaurants, where you’re still going to want places with lots of social distancing, vigorous safety protocols, and where you won’t end up staying too long.
As for concerts and movie theaters, I’d continue to urge caution. These are environments where you’re potentially spending hours in an enclosed area with many people, and unlike a plane, chances are the air filtration systems are not great.
Fortunately — or, unfortunately — the concert and movie theater question remains largely moot, as few, if any, opportunities exist right now.
As with every chapter of this pandemic, much of this story remains to be told. Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and everywhere will keep studying the virus and its effects, and our advice will continue to evolve. But when in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Prescott, a physician and medical researcher, is president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Cohen is a marathoner and OMRF’s senior vice president and general counsel. Submit your health questions for them to email@example.com.