You’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19. Now what?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for Americans who have been vaccinated for COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people can gather safely in small groups without masks, according to the recommendations.

“It’s important to bear in mind this advice about gathering without masks is limited to gathering in a private setting ― not in public. This guidance doesn’t translate as well into the workplace, where the vaccination statuses and high-risk health conditions of co-workers aren’t public knowledge,” says Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group.

Watch: Dr. Melanie Swift answers questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Swift are available in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy: “Melanie Swift, M.D./COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution/Mayo Clinic.”

In this Q&A, Dr. Swift answers common questions people may have after being vaccinated for COVID-19:

How long will each COVID-19 vaccine be effective?

It’s not yet know how long any of the COVID-19 vaccines will last in terms of protecting people from COVID-19. We believe it’s at least three months. It’s probably a year, but we’re going to have to wait and see. These studies are ongoing, and we will get the answer to the question of how long each COVID-19 vaccine works.

How long does it take to build up immunity to COVID-19 after being vaccinated for COVID-19?

After you finish your COVID-19 vaccination series, whether it’s the two-dose series or the single dose, you need to wait two weeks to get the full benefit of the COVID-19 vaccine. Even then, when you have the full benefit of your COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19 is still circulating in the community. There is no widespread immunity yet. Therefore, people still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing for now.

Why do people who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 still have to wear a mask and practice social distancing while in public?

It’s frustrating that we’re not quite there yet, but taking off your mask and letting down your social distancing while in public right now is a little bit like deciding that you don’t need to wear your seat belt because you’re a good driver. You can’t control all of the risks out there, and no COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective. So right now until more of the population is protected, you should not relax those precautions.

What are the potential side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine?

A COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild side effects after the first or second dose, including:

  • Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given.
  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Chills.
  • Joint pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling unwell.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

A COVID-19 vaccine can cause side effects similar to signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, and you develop symptoms more than three days after getting vaccinated or the symptoms last more than two days, self-isolate and get tested.


For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a nonpatient-care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and

Learn more about tracking COVID-19 and COVID-19 trends.

March 4, 2021- Mayo Clinic COVID-19 trending map using red color tones for hot spots
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