If you are a Husker who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you can rip off that mask just yet.
Doing so could throw away your shot of protection and put colleagues, students, friends and family at risk. Here are some basic guidelines to follow until we are closer to herd immunity — the point at which a substantial majority of the nation is protected via vaccination or natural infection, limiting easy spread of the virus.
Vaccine protection takes weeks
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you will not be fully protected until two weeks after your last dose of vaccine.
That means at least 14 days must have passed since your second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or at least two weeks since your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before you reach full immunity.
Keep masking up
The university continues to observe mask use when on campus — vaccine or no.
The faster everyone wears a mask and receives a vaccine, the faster our community can crush COVID-19. Continuing to adhere to pandemic protocols — mask use, physical distancing, hand washing and hand sanitizer use, etc. — will also increase the odds we can return to normal activities across campus and in the Lincoln community.
Further, the vaccines are intended to protect you from getting sick with COVID-19. There is growing proof that the vaccine does help prevent transmission; however, the CDC reports that there is not enough data to prove if those who are vaccinated can carry the virus and infect others.
Random testing continues
Even after you have received the vaccine (and waited the two weeks for full protection), you are expected to continue participation in the university’s random mitigation testing for COVID-19.
Until global research proves different, there remains a possibility that even with the full vaccine, you can be infected, show no symptoms and silently transmit the virus to others. There’s a 20% chance you’ll be selected for the testing any given week. And, participating in the testing is a very simple way you can continue to expand your bubble of protection across the greater campus community.
Also know that — according to local and national health officials — being vaccinated will not result in you receiving a false positive on a saliva-based COVID-19 test. Learn more about the vaccine and testing from the CDC.
So, what can you do without a mask?
When you are off campus, the CDC reports that fully vaccinated people can:
Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing.
Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing IF the unvaccinated individuals are at low risk for severe disease.
Again, full vaccination does not mean you can run wild and throw safety precautions to the wind. Health experts agree that you should continue to:
Wear a mask and maintain good distance around anyone unvaccinated and at increased risk for severe COVID-19.
Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated individuals who are from multiple households.
Maintain physical distancing in public.
Avoid medium- and large-sized crowds.
Avoid poorly ventilated public spaces.
Wash those hands frequently.
Get tested for COVID-19 if you feel sick. The university offers testing at its TestNebraska site and University Health Center for individuals who are symptomatic or who suspect exposure.
For those not yet vaccinated
Remain patient. Vaccine distribution continues to accelerate locally. Updates on progress are available on the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Further information on availability for the campus community will be announced.
Want to learn more?
Check out the University Health Center webpage. It includes important overviews on how to get vaccinated and why the COVID-19 vaccines are important.