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Now that about a quarter of U.S. residents are fully vaccinated (as of April 20, 2021), what does this actually mean — especially to those of us who are fully vaccinated? I spent most of this last year inside my bedroom, sitting on my bed with my laptop. I rarely left the house, I haven’t stepped in a grocery store since August 2020, and I can’t decide if I’ve saved a lot of money by not going out almost every night — or if I’ve just rechanneled that spending into buying clothes I will never wear because I still don’t go outside.
But now that I’m vaccinated, does that mean I can go about living my best pre-pandemic life?
Not so fast — according to America’s most trusted doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
How did Fauci live in 2020
According to Business Insider, Fauci spent most of 2020 inside his home or working. “I haven’t gotten the day off in a year and three months,” Fauci said. Due both to pandemic safety concerns and his busy schedule serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci and his wife limited their social lives mostly to their next door neighbors.
Even when they met their neighbors, they’d taken zero chances, only meeting outside — regardless of the temperature or season. Fauci said, “Whenever we would get together, we would do it outside, freezing our butts off, wearing a mask, having a dinner or having a drink outside on my deck.”
How has Fauci’s behavior changed now that he’s vaccinated
Now that Fauci is fully vaccinated (he got his last Moderna shot in January), his life has only changed marginally. The main difference is that he and his neighbors now feel comfortable eating inside without masks and with physical contact. In addition, Fauci cautioned that when they invite people over to their home, they make sure the person is either vaccinated, or “tests themselves very, very frequently.”
It may shock you to learn that Fauci is still extremely cautious despite being fully vaccinated. He’ll order takeout from restaurants but though indoor dining is permitted in many areas, he won’t since indoor eating is considered a high-risk activity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fauci is not only avoiding dining in, he’s not going to any indoor crowded spaces such as movie theaters.
Though the CDC has said that traveling is okay, Fauci also isn’t traveling or flying. Mostly because he’s at the age that is still at high risk for COVID-19 and thanks to breakthrough infections and variants, getting COVID-19 even post vaccination is a valid concern.
He is also following CDC recommendations to continue wearing a face covering mask in public, not changing much of his public health measures that he was taking prior to his Moderna shot.
We need to be cautious and patient
I’ll be honest. Until I found out about breakthrough infections (where people are infected with COVID-19 even after they are fully vaccinated) and was researching articles, I didn’t realize people were still being asked to exercise caution even post-vaccination. I would have anyway because I generally do not leave my house and I’m a big fan of mask culture. But, I hadn’t realized that authorities were still asking people — even vaccinated people — to avoid congregating in groups.
It is still unclear whether vaccinated people can spread the virus (though early evidence indicates that they usually cannot). Fauci cautioned people to avoid crowds and continue social distancing.
I know that we’re all feeling that itch to be out and free from restrictions, but even at 211 million vaccines administered and around 3 million people added daily, we’re still nowhere near the U.S. population of 330 million people. We’re a long way from herd immunity — if that’s even possible since many experts believe COVID will become endemic rather than be eradicated — and until then, it’s still better to practice safety protocols.
Just as before, wear a mask, don’t go out if you are sick, avoid crowds, and remain at proper social distances from people who are not in your household. Wash your hands or use hand-sanitizer, and be careful when you are meeting with people who are not yet vaccinated. I’m no mindless minion — but I do try to learn by example instead of experience when possible. And if Fauci does it, I’m likely going to do the same.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.