This is an email from Your Coronavirus Update, a newsletter by Medium Coronavirus Blog.

The Latest: What happens after you’re vaccinated?

Dear Reader,

It’s my great honor to bring you today’s newsletter as the new editor of the Coronavirus Blog. I’m Yasmin Tayag, and I’ll be helping you navigate Covid-19 as we enter a new — and more hopeful — phase of the pandemic.

While vaccination has been slow, confusing, and in many places inequitable, it is happening, and that alone is encouraging. The United States has already administered 44 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Many who have been vaccinated are wondering: Well, what now?

Great question, and one that I’m glad more people are in a position to ask. One thing to keep in mind immediately after getting your first or second dose is that reactions like soreness, headache, and fever are normal and expected. The body’s reaction to the second dose, in particular, is known to pack a punch. Some experts, as Robert Roy Britt wrote this week, recommend avoiding painkillers to deal with these reactions, as there’s a chance they might interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Dr Jeff Livingston, whose mother also wondered what she could do after getting vaccinated, reminds us that immunity takes a while to kick in after vaccination — about two weeks after the second dose. After that point, the risk of severe disease is low, but the risk is not zero and transmission is still possible. Vaccinated people should still wear a mask, just in case.

Despite this possibility, the six experts that my colleague Dana G Smith interviewed for Elemental are optimistic that the vaccines will partially prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They expect people who are vaccinated to shed less of the virus, lowering the risk of transmission.

In short: Vaccination isn’t a silver bullet, but if used in tandem with mask-wearing and social distancing, it’s a powerful tool to stop the spread of this disease.

Stay safe and stay hopeful,

Yasmin Tayag
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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The new variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa are concerning because they are more transmissible. To protect yourself against them, experts recommend upping your mask game. Atul Gawande, MD, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and member of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, said on a press call this week: “I would recommend that we move to medical-grade masks.”

Read more.

WHO Reaffirms the Coronavirus Likely Came From an Animal, Not a Lab Accident

You Got the Second Dose of the Covid-19 Vaccine. Now What?

Why You Can’t Read Too Much Into the Virus-Mutation Research

How to Hold Space for Black People With Vaccine Doubts

Why Scientists Are Optimistic That the Vaccine Will Partially Prevent Infection

The Current Treatments Available for Treating Covid-19

The Data Behind the Federal Vaccine Algorithm May Be Skewed

What If We Never Reach Herd Immunity?

Hygiene Theater Is Still a Huge Waste of Time

New York’s Vaccine Websites Weren’t Working. He Built a New One for $50.

Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.