Here’s something to celebrate: every day, more and more Oregonians are getting their vaccine.
Sure, the rollout in the state has been bumpy. True, we have yet to open the floodgates to every person over the age of 16 (for that, you’ll have to make your way to Alaska or, based on the current timeline, wait until May 1). Heck, even restaurant workers and grocery store employees are still waiting for their shot at a shot, though even there, the news is positive: Gov. Kate Brown says a new timeline for front-line workers, older Oregonians, and those aged 16–44 with underlying conditions is coming at the end of the week.
Meanwhile, numbers don’t lie: On our best days, Oregon is administering 35,000-plus doses of vaccines per day. At the Oregon Convention Center’s mass vaccination clinic, administrators say the capacity is there to complete 1,100 shots per hour. More than 500,000 of your fellow Oregonians are fully vaccinated already; that’s about 12.5 percent of the state’s population.
So, what can those of you who are fully vaccinated expect from life post-shot? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some guidance, and new information is coming out regularly.
First, if you’re fully vaccinated—two weeks after your shot if you got the Johnson & Johnson one dose vaccine, or two weeks after your booster if you’re a Pfizer/Moderna person—you can feel safe hanging out without your mask, with other fully vaccinated people, in your home or theirs. In other words: After months and months of staying within your household, here’s a chance to talk to someone else at your dinner table.
Second—and this one goes out especially to the grandparents out there—you can now hug and kiss your grandkids, even though kids under 16 won’t be vaccinated for months. The CDC says it is OK for the fully vaccinated to visit unmasked with those in another contained household who are at significantly less risk for developing several complications from COVID-19, and that includes most children.* If the kids or grandkids have underlying health conditions such as asthma or diabetes, though, it’s better to wait.
More good news: If you’re fully vaxxed and get the word that you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the virus, you don’t need to drop everything and rushed to get tested, unless you start feeling symptoms. (Though if you live in a group setting, like a nursing home, you should still plan to quarantine after exposure, per the CDC.)
However, your vaccine isn’t a free pass to 2019. Per the CDC, you cannot and should not do the following:
- Remove your mask and march into a bar/restaurant/gym/office/grocery store (really, any public, indoor place) and proceed to stand uncomfortably close to anyone. Really, you should not do that last one anyway, under any circumstances. But especially not now. And recall that Oregon still has a mask mandate for all indoor public spaces and anywhere outdoors where six feet of distance cannot be maintained, regardless of anyone's vaccination status.
- Hop on a plane for nonessential travel. Yes, you want to go to Cabo or Sedona, or heck, both. We all do. But for safety’s sake, and with the country in a tight vaccine vs. variants race, the CDC kindly requests that you curb your wanderlust for just a little longer.
- Attend a wedding, or a giant, packed concert at the Moda Center. Medium-to-large gatherings are still off limits, for now.
One interesting trend: so far 60 percent of those vaccinated in Oregon are female. That’s in part due to early prioritization of educators and health care workers, including home health aides and nursing home staffs; still, men have some catching up to do.
Even more reason for hope: Early research on the vaccines suggest that the vaccinated may also be less like to acquire and transmit the virus, data that is informing new federal guidelines. (In fact, COVID “long-haulers” are reporting their lingering symptoms are lifting, post-vaccine.)
*In Oregon, through March 13, 2021, there has been one child under the age of 10 who died from COVID-19 and one minor between the ages of 10 and 19. For context, 118 minors died in Oregon in 2019; leading causes of death include suicide, car accidents and cancer.