First and foremost:
It might have been a massive decision for you to take that next step, as it was for me. Your concerns and feelings are real and legitimate. So, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for deciding to overcome your fears and getting that vaccine to protect yourself and your community.
You might still have some residual worries, and to some extent, regrets. We cannot deny that the COVID-19 shots are incredibly new in comparison to the other vaccines, such as influenza or pneumonia vaccines.
As of 1 June 2021, almost 2 billion doses have already been administered, while 426 million people have already completed their full regimen!  This serves as a timely reminder that you are not alone. Along with many people who have already attained their vaccine, you might have some unanswered questions and unresolved doubts.
“What should you do after getting your COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and others)? On the other hand, what shouldn’t you do after getting the vaccine?” Those are great questions.
Hopefully, this article will enlighten you and give you more confidence about what you need to know and do moving forward. Let’s get started with the 10 things you need to know after getting your COVID-19 vaccine!
1. Do I still need to wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
This heavily depends on your local situation. Follow the guidelines and regulations set by your local authorities, as this will prevent the rapid spread and transmission of COVID-19.
Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises. Those who have completed their full vaccination regimen can gather indoors without any social distancing or wearing masks in two situations. 
Firstly, they can do so when gathering with other people who have been fully vaccinated. 
Secondly, they can do so when gathering with unvaccinated people from one other household. This is the case unless those people are at an increased risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms or live with people at an increased risk of that. 
However, the CDC still emphasizes the importance of wearing masks for vaccinated people when they go out into public crowds or mingle with unvaccinated individuals from multiple households. 
If you’re wondering whether you are considered a fully vaccinated individual, you have to meet either of these criteria:
Firstly, 2 weeks have elapsed since you received your second dose of double-dose vaccines such as the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations. Or secondly, 2 weeks have passed since you attained one dose of the single-shot vaccine, namely the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. 
If you do not fall into either of those categories, you are not fully vaccinated yet. For some groups of people who are immunocompromised, they may not be as well protected even after meeting either criterion. If you are concerned about this, speak with a trusted healthcare professional. 
Overall, the most important thing is to follow the rules and guidelines set by your local government on where and when you need to wear your mask.
2. When and why should I wear a mask after being fully vaccinated for COVID-19?
Whenever you are out in public crowds, you must wear a mask and practice social distancing. For example, wear a mask when you are commuting using public transport to your workplace or if you are traveling by plane. 
When you are indoors and gathering with individuals from multiple households or with individuals placed in the high-risk category, it is best practice to wear a mask as well. 
Do take note that it is wisest to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines provided by your local authorities and healthcare providers. They understand the local situation the best and will give you advice that is the most relevant to your situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of things uncertain. Try your best to adapt to the given guidelines, as these will be ever-changing based on how well the current pandemic control.
Why A Mask Is Still Required
The main reason why you are still required to wear your mask at certain times is this. The vaccine does not guarantee 100% protection. Although they are immensely effective, not one of the vaccines has or ever will provide you complete protection. Plus, we still have a long way to go before the complete eradication of COVID-19! 
For starters, you might have heard of the deadly smallpox virus, which has caused the death of around 300 million people since the year 1900 alone.  That’s a devastating number. The first successful vaccine was developed in 1796, but the virus was only declared to be entirely eradicated in 1980, over 200 years after the vaccine was first successfully created. [6, 7]
In comparison, vaccination programs for COVID-19 have only just begun. Even though we are progressing at an impressive pace, we are still years away from the complete eradication of the COVID-19 virus.
Other reasons why you should keep your mask on and practice social distancing:
- The COVID-19 vaccine does not become highly effective immediately. Great things take time. 
- If you are exposed to the virus, you may still be infected and possibly become an asymptomatic carrier (showing no symptoms). To protect others, using a mask is a significant step! Plus, getting the vaccine means you are less likely to show noticeable symptoms for COVID-19! 
- Scientists are still learning a few things. They are still investigating how effective these vaccines prevent you from transmitting the virus to others, even if you are asymptomatic. There is some data to suggest that if you show no symptoms and have been fully vaccinated, you cannot spread the virus. Experts have yet to confirm this, though. For this reason, CDC’s advice is to wear a mask in situations such as those mentioned above. 
- Scientists don’t know how long the effects of the vaccine will last. It’s best to wear a mask in certain circumstances due to that reason. 
- Some individuals cannot get the vaccine, such as those who are pregnant or below the minimum age. People in the high-risk category have greater chances of getting seriously ill or dying after being infected, so it’s our responsibility to protect them as well. Even if you are vaccinated, wear a mask to keep high-risk groups as safe as possible. 
- Currently, the rate at which people are vaccinated is limited by the number of doses available. It may take us till the end of 2021 or beyond before we can achieve herd immunity. We can only achieve herd immunity when sufficient people have received the vaccine to protect those who cannot get their shots. Hence, wearing a mask is an excellent and efficacious way to protect your community. 
3. What do I do if I show symptoms of COVID-19?
You may be infected with the virus even after vaccination.
Do you notice symptoms such as fever, dry cough, fatigue, sore throat, headache, loss of sense of smell or taste, and various other signs of COVID-19? If so, quarantine yourself immediately and get tested if possible. 
This is especially crucial if you know you have been around people who have tested positive or displayed symptoms of COVID-19. 
As the phrase goes, ‘Better safe than sorry!’
4. Can I travel internationally now that I’ve been vaccinated?
Follow the rules set by your local authorities.
If traveling internationally is permitted, your best option is to familiarize yourself with the current situation at the destination you plan to head to. Based on which airline you choose to take and where you plan to go, thoroughly read the airline’s and country’s requirements. 
This will give you all the necessary information regarding wearing masks, swab testing, and quarantine. If you do not meet those requirements, the airline or country may bar you from entering. 
While traveling, remember to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose and practice social distancing according to the guidelines given. 
The precautions don’t end after you’ve returned to your home country. For example, in the U.S., CDC recommends taking the swab test three to five days after travel. You always have to be alert in monitoring yourself for signs and symptoms of a COVID-19 infection after travel. 
Be sure to follow the rules and guidelines instated by your local authorities. 
5. What activities and events are considered low risk?
Once again, this depends on your area’s current COVID-19 situation. If the government has declared a lockdown, be sure to stick to those instructions because many events and activities will be of higher risk.
Generally, these are lower risk activities for those who have been fully vaccinated:
- Eating out in open spaces
- Visiting your barber for a haircut
- Commuting via public transportation
- Giving your vaccinated friends and family a hug
- Playing non-contact sports outdoors 
These are medium-risk activities:
- Eating meals in indoor restaurants
- Traveling via a commercial airline
- Getting a massage
- Going to the gym
- Visiting elderly relatives or family friends who have yet to get the vaccine
- Watching movies in a cinema
- Going for medium to large gatherings outdoors 
Lastly, these are likely to be high-risk activities:
- Attending medium to large events indoors
- Playing contact sports indoors
- Attending a large physical conference or meeting 
As mentioned above, these are subject to change depending on the current COVID-19 situation in your local state. For example, low-risk activities may become medium-risk if the cases of COVID-19 infections skyrocket.
6. Do I need booster shots in the future?
This is a great question! The answer is, no one knows for sure. Scientists are still learning how long the protection lasts after the completion of the full regimen. However, based on recent news, it seems that booster shots will be a part of our future.
According to Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, booster shots are likely needed within 12 months of attaining your immunization shots. Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, shares the same opinion, remarking that the virus is not going away anytime soon. Thus, we will need to get booster shots. Pfizer and Moderna are also working on developing booster shots that are effective against new COVID-19 viral strains. [10, 11]
7. When do I need to seek medical attention due to side effects from the vaccine?
The side effects you may experience after getting the vaccine are typical signs that your body is building immunity towards the COVID-19 virus. 
Some common side effects include pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Other common side effects are fatigue, headache, fever, chills, and nausea. Usually, the side effects are more intense after you have received your second jab. These side effects may affect your ability to carry out your daily activities as usual but usually subside within a few days. 
Call or consult your healthcare provider if the swelling or redness at the local injection site worsens after 24 hours or if your side effects start to concern you and do not go away after a few days. 
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience this side effect called anaphylaxis. This is a rare but life-threatening and severe allergic reaction that usually occurs 15-30 minutes after you have received your vaccine. However, sometimes the symptoms only appear after a few hours. 
Since you may only be under observation for 30 minutes to an hour post-vaccination, it is still important to recognize these symptoms in case you experience them. 
Some symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Tightness of your throat and difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Widespread itchiness and hives
- Dizziness, fainting, or abnormally fast heartbeat
- Swelling of the eyes, tongue, lips, or mouth
- Increased secretion from the nose or mouth
- Agitation or convulsion 
If you experience these symptoms, call your emergency service provider immediately (911).
8. What can I do to alleviate the side effects of the vaccine?
If you experience pain or soreness at the injection site, you can apply a cool, clean, and wet cloth over the area to soothe it. You may also use an ice pack instead but never apply ice directly to the site. Other than that, a cool bath may help, and you can gently move your arm around to exercise it. [12, 14]
Also, drink plenty of water, and get as much rest as you can. Acetaminophen or paracetamol is an over-the-counter painkiller you can take if you experience pain and soreness. It is the safest pain reliever, but consult a healthcare professional to find out if it is safe for you if you have any medical conditions. [12, 14]
9. I experienced terrible side effects after my shot. Should I go back for my second shot or get revaccinated in the future?
Most vaccines require 2 doses!
If you experienced a severe allergic reaction, which is anaphylaxis, from your first shot, CDC recommends this:
Do not go for the second shot. 
Allergic reactions are considered severe when epinephrine or an Epipen is required to treat the reaction or when the patient needs to be admitted into the hospital. 
Besides that, if you experienced an immediate allergic reaction to the vaccine, even if it was not a severe reaction, CDC recommends this:
Do not get a second shot. 
For your information, immediate allergic reactions occur within 4 hours of getting the immunization jab. 
In the event you get the ‘COVID arm,’ CDC still recommends that you get a second shot for two-shot vaccines. If you get a red, swollen, painful, or itchy rash, which can sometimes grow quite large, at your injection site, this is called the ‘COVID arm.’ 
When you get your second shot, let your vaccinator know that you experienced this after the previous injection. 
If you experienced other side effects such as headache, fatigue, muscle soreness, or fever, this is a common response and shows that your body is developing immunity against the virus. The second shot should be safe for you, but if you are concerned, consult your healthcare provider.
10. Should I get the second dose if I test positive for COVID-19 after the first dose?
Most vaccines require two shots, and the interval between both shots can range between 21 days to 12 weeks! During that period, you can still get infected with the COVID-19 virus upon exposure. This may still occur even if you have already received some form of protection from the first jab.
It is best to go for your second dose. However, do not go for the vaccination while you are still sick or undergoing your isolation period. This will prevent you from spreading the virus to other people. 
If you missed the date allocated for the second shot for this reason or any other reason, reschedule it as soon as you can. 
Bottomline: Post-COVID-19 Vaccination
We are not out of the woods yet, even after getting immunization shots. Try your best to keep your guard up. If we all stand together in battling this virus, we can attain victory over it.
If you are unable to get the shot as you do not meet the age requirement or for any other reason, there are still many ways you can keep yourself and your community protected!
Maybe you have decided not to get the vaccine or are still on the fence regarding that decision. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any trusted healthcare professional.
Everyone has their fears and frustrations, and yours is not any less valid. Find a safe space to discuss your worries and doubts and clarify your questions with someone qualified to give you health advice. They can help you make an informed choice and reach the best outcome for your personal situation.
In the meantime, don’t forget to mask up when you head out!
Frequently Asked Questions About The COVID-19 Vaccines
Do I need to get vaccinated if I was infected with Covid-19?
Yes, the CDC recommends that you should get vaccinated, even if you have been infected with COVID-19 before. Scientists and researchers have yet to confirm how long you will be immune to the virus after recovering from COVID-19.
You can get re-infected with COVID-19, so getting vaccinated is one of the safest ways to protect yourself and your community. 
Can antibiotics treat coronavirus disease?
Antibiotics do not treat viral infections even if the mucus is green, thick, or yellow. This includes diseases such as the cold, flu, bronchitis, and COVID-19. 
Antibiotics are only utilized to treat medical conditions caused by bacteria. 
Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of getting other vaccines?
CDC notes that the COVID-19 vaccines may now be administered without regard to the timing you received other vaccines.
Initially, the COVID-19 vaccine had to be administered alone, with at least 14 days in between the receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. However, the CDC has confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines can be administered even if you have received another vaccine on the same day. If you are concerned about this, consult your healthcare provider. 
How long will it take for my body to build immunity after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
It generally takes 2 weeks after completing the full regimen for your body to build protection. This happens 2 weeks after getting both shots of double-dose vaccines, such as the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and 2 weeks after getting one dose of the single-shot vaccine, namely the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. 
Can you get infected with COVID-19 from a package in the mail?
The COVID-19 virus is most commonly transmitted through respiratory droplets. The virus may survive for a short time on surfaces, but it is unlikely for the virus to be transmitted via mail or packages. 
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not replace the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional. We provide information based on the sources available at the date of publishing. Some of the information may be outdated or no longer applicable.