Family visits, eating out, & travel: What changes, what doesn’t after getting the coronavirus vaccine

MADISON, Wis.– “I got my vaccine… now what?”

More than half of Wisconsin’s 65+ population is now full-vaccinated, and they have questions. Who can they see? What can they do? Where can they go? What changes?

All doctors agree masks are an absolutely essential part of life, even post-vaccination. However, some aspects of daily life could change once you receive your shot(s).

Dr. Jeff Pothof, Chief Quality Officer at UW Health, spoke to News 3 Now this afternoon about life after the vaccine: specifically, what’s safe and what’s not.

Family/friend get-togethers: Proceed with caution.

Dr. Pothof explained there isn’t a completely safe way to interact with others right now, considering more than 90% of Wisconsinites are still unvaccinated. Indoor get-togethers are relatively safe if everyone is vaccinated.

“Even in a gathering with lower-risk people, you could be facilitating a superspreader event,” Pothof explained. “Wherever those people go  next, they could be spreading the disease to additional people.”

Dining out: More safe, for vaccinated people.

Pothof said that even post-vaccination, people can still place the wait staff at risk, especially if service industry workers haven’t gotten their vaccines yet. In Wisconsin, many are still waiting.

Grocery shopping: Fairly low-risk.

Pothof noted that grocery stores have done a good job distancing shoppers and liming interaction already. He said the risk is low, even among the elderly.

“As long as it’s been 7 to 10 days after your last dose, you stay distanced, and you wear your mask, I’d feel pretty comfortable telling people it’s okay to do that,” Pothof said.

Traveling: Relatively safe.

“If you’re vaccinated and you’re going to fly somewhere are essentially be within your bubble, I wouldn’t have too much concern,” Pothof said, of taking a spring break trip.

He said airports are generally well-spaced, so the main concern is the number of people you interact with at your vacation destination. Vacation homes and condos are safer than hotels, and walking on a beach is safer than walking in a crowded park. Pothof says you should use common sense and plan ahead.

Hugging extended family: Wait a little longer.

Pothof said he understands this is a tough one. However, he said we made it this far, so it’s safest to wait another three to four months, even if you are vaccinated, until the rest of Wisconsin catches up. Once 75- to 80-percent of people in the state are vaccinated, life can likely return to something more normal.

The bottom line:

Pothof said there are two reasons to still wear a mask and socially distance:

  1. To protect other people who aren’t yet vaccinated
  2. To prevent the virus from mutating and creating variants that could defeat the efficacy of your vaccine