An overhead view of a grandmother greeting her grandaughter on a video call on a digital tablet.

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out throughout the US, many grandparents — together with one co-author of this weblog put up — are thrilled to carry out their arms for a jab. In some elements of the nation, these vaccinations started as early as mid-January. By mid-February, legions of energized and relieved seniors have been buying and selling selfie pictures of their newly vaccinated arms.

Grandparents, like different seniors, wished the vaccine to maintain themselves secure. Nonetheless, there was one other compelling motive: the need to hug grandchildren. Ellen Glazer, LICSW, requested fellow grandparents in several states — a few of whom stay minutes away from grandchildren and a few who’re separated by continents — what they stay up for as soon as totally vaccinated.

Under, Amy Sherman, MD, an infectious illness specialist and teacher in drugs at Harvard Medical Faculty, weighs in on a lot of hopes and questions — some very particular, and a few that may assist everybody. Remember the fact that consultants could disagree about what’s or isn’t secure to do after vaccination. Additionally, recommendation is more likely to change as we study extra in regards to the vaccines and as a bigger variety of individuals get vaccinated, bringing herd immunity nearer.

Whereas the present messages — keep cautious, observe protecting measures — could really feel irritating for grandparents relieved to have gotten the vaccine, they’re mandatory. Reflecting on the previous 12 months, many understand that practices that appeared so troublesome at first of the pandemic, resembling sporting masks and interesting in a point of social distance, have turn into a part of our lives. These new habits allow us to maneuver ahead with small, well-informed, and hopeful steps towards our new regular.

Can I make others sick? Is it secure to see (and hug) grandkids and household who haven’t had the vaccine?

Research present each mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech) are about 95% efficient in stopping symptomatic COVID-19. Each vaccines shield in opposition to average to extreme illness and cut back hospitalizations and deaths because of COVID-19, which is unbelievable! However we don’t know if these vaccines forestall asymptomatic an infection — that’s, being sick with the virus with out signs like fever, cough, and shortness of breath. So it’s attainable that you may have the virus with out signs, and unfold the virus to others.

Typically, the extra carefully individuals work together and the longer they spend with others, the upper the chance of getting or spreading the virus, in line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC).

With these phrases of warning, I feel it’s cheap to contemplate seeing and hugging your loved ones and grandkids whereas taking protecting measures to remain wholesome:

  • Wash arms typically.
  • Put on masks that match nicely when in shut contact, resembling whereas in the identical room with others and when hugging.
  • Restrict time spent with relations who should not but vaccinated.
  • Maintain the go to open air in the event you can.

When attainable, everybody gathering can decrease danger additional by avoiding contact with individuals exterior their family for 14 days earlier than a go to, and/or by getting examined for the virus one to a few days earlier than a go to.

Can I nonetheless get sick?

I like to consider these vaccines as being a waterproof jacket, versus a water-resistant jacket. With the vaccine, you should still get moist, however not soaked. As defined above, it’s nonetheless attainable to develop asymptomatic or delicate sickness. A small proportion of individuals could get extra extreme sickness regardless of vaccination. Additional, it’s necessary to notice that

  • vaccines don’t all the time present sturdy immune responses in individuals ages 65 and older, as a result of the immune system usually weakens with age. Due to this fact, even when vaccinated, you might not have the identical excessive stage of safety in opposition to average to extreme illness described within the research.
  • we’re nonetheless studying about variant strains now circulating. We don’t but know the way the vaccines carry out in the true world in opposition to these variants. Early indications counsel the mRNA vaccines might not be as efficient in opposition to some variants, however nonetheless appear to assist keep away from hospitalizations and demise.

What if I stay with somebody who hasn’t had the vaccine?

It’s greatest to proceed the secure behaviors you have been doing pre-vaccination to assist shield your partner or others that you simply stay with. The vaccine is one other layer of safety for you, and in addition helps shield your partner or others in your speedy family. Nonetheless, transmission continues to be attainable.

Can I go to with associates or household who’ve had the vaccine — for instance, have a meal collectively indoors or have a grandchild stick with us?

For those who and your loved ones or associates have been vaccinated, you may think about spending time collectively. As with a COVID pod or bubble, discuss to your loved ones or associates earlier than gathering, to make sure everyone seems to be snug socializing in particular person and with the precautions others are taking.

A couple of components to debate embody:

  • How not too long ago was the vaccine given? What number of doses has every particular person obtained? We all know that one dose of the mRNA vaccine supplies some safety, however peak safety possible happens about 10 to 14 days after the second dose.
  • The potential for asymptomatic sickness and unfold, even when persons are vaccinated: ensure everybody is aware of transmission continues to be attainable, though the probability of extreme illness because of COVID-19 is low if everybody has been vaccinated. Nonetheless, if somebody has the virus, they could unfold it to unvaccinated individuals.

Can I journey on a airplane safely (and is first-class any safer than coach)?

Begin by checking CDC, state, and native tips earlier than you fly. The CDC at present recommends suspending journey.

Your danger isn’t confined to the airplane itself (or potential variations between first-class and coach). How will you journey to and from the airport (public transportation, journey shares)? What about check-in traces on the airport, or sitting within the gate space with others in shut quarters for an prolonged time frame? Will it’s essential use public restrooms, or eat in areas with a number of different vacationers? These eventualities carry greater dangers of virus transmission.

If it’s attainable to drive, this can be a greater choice in an effort to restrict exposures. Within the automotive, you possibly can restrict stops, pack meals and eat and drink within the automotive, and keep away from giant gatherings of those that happen in airports and public transit.

For those who should fly, attempt to cut back danger and exposures as a lot as attainable. Your vaccine is one layer of safety. Defend your self in different methods to decrease your possibilities of turning into contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Get a viral take a look at one to a few days earlier than you allow. If it’s constructive otherwise you develop signs, don’t fly.
  • Some airways are limiting seating and preserving center seats open. Attempt to guide a flight that’s abiding by these tips.
  • Drive your self or have household drive you to the airport.
  • Maintain your masks on and keep away from crowded areas within the airport.
  • Keep away from consuming or ingesting in ready areas.
  • On the airplane, proceed to put on a masks all through the flight.
  • Deliver further hand sanitizer and masks.

What precautions do I nonetheless must take exterior my family, and why?

COVID-19 charges stay very excessive locally, and variants will proceed to flow into. In case you are uncovered to the virus, you aren’t 100% shielded from sickness even in the event you’ve had the vaccine.

Till a excessive proportion of the inhabitants is vaccinated, I like to recommend sustaining acquainted precautions exterior of the house: wash arms typically, put on masks, observe bodily distancing. We’d like herd immunity locally earlier than we are able to loosen up any of those protecting measures. Even in the event you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t want to contribute to group unfold of COVID-19 that may make others very sick, and even die.

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