What you should, should not do once you’re fully vaccinated

Anastasia Goodwin

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the March 23 issue of The Daily Texan.

Fully vaccinated students can begin gathering with some small groups of friends and loved ones without masks or social distancing, according to guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 8.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose, according to CDC guidelines. UT Health Austin has fully vaccinated 17,486 people as of March 13, according to the UT Austin COVID-19 dashboard. As of publication, UT Health Austin was unable to confirm how many of those were students. 

“Since so few of our students have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, we encourage all students, regardless of vaccination status, to continue to follow the public health guidance of double masking, social distancing, testing through PCT and hand washing,” said Amy Young, chief clinical officer at UT Health Austin, in an email. 

According to the new CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people can safely gather with others who are also fully vaccinated without social distancing or wearing masks. They may also gather with unvaccinated people from one household outside of their own without masks and distancing, as long as the unvaccinated people in the household are at a low-risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Although fully vaccinated students can begin having small gatherings in their homes, precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing should still be taken while in public, according to the guidelines. Traveling and participation in medium to large gatherings should still be avoided, according to the CDC.

Graduate student Mariana Muñoz said after the death of her mother from COVID-19, she has taken extra safety precautions and has not visited high-risk loved ones since. Muñoz, who is fully vaccinated, said the CDC guidelines made her feel more comfortable visiting her vaccinated loved ones. Muñoz said she plans to visit her 86-year-old father in the coming weeks, but still plans to wear a mask.

“I'm pretty happy about that,” Muñoz said. “It's the first time I'm gonna get to hug (my father) in about a year.”

Assistant professor Andrew Gaudet said getting vaccinated felt like a weight taken off his shoulders. Gaudet said he feels more comfortable in public now, but is still being careful because he has two young children at home. 

“It's still worth being careful for a little bit longer for those of us who can be, or can afford to be, in order for everyone to maintain health,” Gaudet said.