Today’s COVID update post is somewhat less exciting than last week’s update post, for I do not have a vaccine (or its side effects) to report on. That being said, I am a few days away from having the maximum immunity built up (I took my second dose a week and a half ago), so having full immunity will be exciting.
There has been much talk about what someone can do if they are fully vaccinated. Given all the discussion on what a fully vaccinated person can do (or should do), and what a fully vaccinated person should still be cautious with, I’m going to get involved in that discussion by talking about how I plan to conduct myself once I am at maximum immunity starting in a few days. The goal of talking about how I plan to conduct myself once I have that immunity built up is to hopefully get others thinking about how they want to move forward when they are fully vaccinated.
How I plan to conduct myself, in terms of the activities I am willing to do, will depend on answers to several questions:
- What COVID-19 variants are around? Furthermore, are said variants deadly? And if said variants are deadly, how well do my Moderna shots protect me from getting those variants? If there are deadly variants around, I want to be sure that my Moderna shots protect me from getting said deadly variants. If I’m not sure whether the Moderna keeps me from contracting a deadly variant going around, then I would still act with some level of caution. To use a relevant example, unless there is information I have missed, there’s still more to learn about how well the vaccine responds to the deadly Indian variant, so I will want to act with a bit of caution (especially when it comes to the riskiest activities from a COVID standpoint, such as dining indoors and being in crowds indoors). According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Covaxin vaccine that’s being used in India is preliminarily showing promise against this variant, but alas, the vaccine shot I got was not Covaxin but Moderna. One note I should add is that if we’re in a place where none of the variants are deadly and/or the Moderna vaccine is known to be effective against the most serious variants that are around, then I would be willing to engage in even the riskier activities (though I imagine there will be a mental barrier to get through on the first occasion that I, say, dine indoors for the first time since pre-COVID).
- How much community spread is there of the virus where I live, and how much community spread is there where I want to go? Even if I’m unsure how well my Moderna shot works against certain variants, if community spread of COVID-19 is pretty low, then I would feel safe with a wider variety of activities than if community spread were pretty high. In my case, I live in a county (Queens County) where the rate of infection is below 1.0, which in layperson’s terms means that at the rate we’re going, we’re going at a rate to slow and hopefully eventually stop the spread of the disease. As such, I might be willing to do somewhat more in terms of activities (especially given that I’m fully vaccinated) than I would even if I were vaccinated and community spread (particularly spread of variants with unknown effectiveness with the Moderna) were widespread.
- If we don’t know whether my Moderna shots react to a deadly variant going around, is the activity I’m thinking of an activity that’s relatively safe even if I were unvaccinated? We have a fair bit of data of which activities are safe or unsafe for even unvaccinated people, and the results may be surprising. For all that public transport has a reputation for being a germ factory, for example, there is no correlation found between riding subways and COVID-19 spread. On the other hand, if you are indoors in a place with poor ventilation, having six feet of distance between yourself and someone else may not be enough.
Before wrapping up my post, I should also note that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has its own chart on which activities are and are not safe for both fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people. My approach to COVID as a fully vaccinated person seems to be a little more cautious than what the CDC’s guidance lays out currently, but at the same time, the CDC’s guidance is worth noting because as I have said to my parents on multiple occasions, following their guidance has helped me get this far without catching COVID.
While I don’t know how much (if at all) my readers will agree with my guiding principles for what activities I do, post-vaccination, I hope that at least this post will get other people thinking about what they do after getting vaccinated. Overall, getting the vaccine is worth it to me because it protects us against so many troublesome variants, but I plan on acting with caution with certain activities until we learn more about how the Moderna vaccine responds against other troublesome variants; notably, the Indian variant.
 You may’ve heard that in certain places, the rate of infection is “below 1.0” or “above 1.0.” Here, you can find an explanation of what these numbers mean: https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/12-best-covid-19-prevention-strategies