On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can travel in the US without tests or quarantines, as long as they remain masked.
That's good news ahead of the Easter holiday weekend. But experts still caution that the risk of getting COVID-19 goes up anytime you get together with people you don't live with.
A lot of you reached out to KARE 11 to ask how to safely gather, especially since more people are vaccinated. Minnesota physician Dr. George Morris is an incident commander for CentraCare Health and has some answers.
- If a person is fully vaccinated, can they still infect others? "There’s a very minimal chance of infecting others after you’ve been vaccinated," said Dr. Morris. He says the vaccines are very effective, especially at protecting people from serious disease. He says there's also a "very low" chance of passing the virus to others even in the rare case you get COVID-19 after being vaccinated.
- Can I hug my grandkids if I’m fully vaccinated and they aren’t? "The real younger kids, yes, it’s safe," said Dr. Morris. "We’ve talked about that they’re not likely to get you sick or you get them sick." He says it's older kids who are driving the recent rise in cases, so he's urging more caution. "If you’re going to give your older grandchild a hug, I would be masked, make sure they’re masked and probably more of a quick hug and then space out."
- If I’m fully vaccinated, can I attend a gathering unmasked with unvaccinated people? "That’s too risky," said Dr. Morris. "If you’re fully vaccinated, I would attend gatherings with other groups with fully vaccinated people." He said now is the time to ask one another about whether you've gotten your shot. "And be open and honest about are you vaccinated or not."
- Is it safe to get the vaccine after contracting COVID-19 and if so, how soon after should I get it? "Go ahead and get that vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19, but wait maybe two to three weeks." He says it's important to let your body rest and quarantine during that time so you don't infect others. "You’re not going to hurt your immune system, you won’t reactivate COVID-19 and, if anything, it will help your body boost its response and recovery."
- If I’m fully vaccinated, what precautions are necessary to protect myself and others from variants in Minnesota? "The variants are spreading in Minnesota and across the country and it is still a good idea to protect yourself with masking, especially when you're around a lot of other people or a group," said Dr. Morris. He also recommends social distancing or try to do activities outdoors.
In general, the Minnesota Department of Health encourages postponing large celebrations and events until there is less community spread of COVID-19. You can read its requirements and recommendations here.
The CDC also has some holiday tips to make celebrations safer for everyone. You can read those here.