The Latest: What happens after you’re vaccinated?
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,
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog
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A quick Q&A: What kind of mask should I wear to protect against variants?
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.”