Still wear a mask? 6 things to know for after you get your COVID-19 vaccine

KPRC 2 is your source for everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.

As more people get vaccinated, more families are hoping this means they can see each other again. However, that hope comes with questions. Here’s what you need to know about a post-vaccine life.

Families hope to see each other after the COVID vaccine

Visiting with grandparents from afar is a scene all too familiar for many of us. So many of us are used to no hugs, no touching and no sleepovers.

“We haven’t been inside their house to hug them or be close to them,” said Kristin Likos.

Likos hasn’t even been able to visit with her medically fragile sister either. For nearly one year, they have been visiting through the window. Kristin’s family comes over once a week to say hello.

But for the Likos family, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Kristin’s parents have gotten their first vaccine.

“When I found out they were able to get an appointment I was just crying tears of joy, knowing they could get the vaccine,” Likos said.

RELATED READ: Follow the latest vaccine news in our special section

Also newly-vaccinated is Viola Bailey in Sugar Land. She just turned 96.

“She is about as sassy as they come,” said Bailey’s granddaughter Joi Bailey Green. “I always tell people she’s a big troublemaker. Even at 96, she is way more spunky and spicy.”

Bailey lives with her granddaughter and her family. She took the first vaccine like a champ.

“When I saw the appointments that were available, I clicked on it and I just started crying,” Green said. “I wasn’t expecting to have that reaction. It’s been an emotional year.”

The family is looking forward to a possible summer vacation together.

“It will be the first time we are going on a vacation together,” Green said. “She’s already putting her money aside and planning her vacation wardrobe.”

These families want to know -- now that grandparents are getting vaccinated, when can we safely get together again?

6 things you should know about life after the COVID vaccine

Dr. Melanie Mouzoon with Kelsey-Seybold is answering the top questions about the best practices after someone gets the vaccine.

1. Once someone is fully vaccinated, when can they see others up close again?

“Two weeks after the second dose they should be OK to loosen things up a little bit,” Mouzoon said. “Then they feel free to see the grandkids and hug them. You can be a little bit looser but not a whole lot looser.”

Mouzoon said that is because the virus keeps changing. That means even people who have been vaccinated should still be careful. She recommends still avoiding large crowds or gatherings.

2. How protected is a person after one vaccine dose? Then the second one?

“About an 80% chance you would be protected if you were exposed to COVID at that time, but not right away, after two weeks,” Mouzoon said. “Then after the second dose that increases to about 95% effective. So they are very effective vaccines.”

The full effectiveness of the vaccine kicks in two weeks after the second dose. You can read more about this from the CDC here.

3. Should someone who is already vaccinated still wear a mask?

Yes. It is recommended that even after vaccination, a person should still wear a mask.

“We are really trying to get everybody to wear the mask because of these new variants, and we don’t know what the vaccine will do as far as these new variants,” Mouzoon said. “There does seem to be some evidence less efficacy among the new variants.”

The Cleveland Clinic explains more reasons why you should wear a mask and also how this could impact herd immunity.

4. Can you carry COVID even if you have been vaccinated?

“We don’t know for sure, but we suspect that may be the case because this illness has such a high rate of asymptomatic carriage.”

5. Is the vaccine less effective for some people?

The vaccine will not have the same effectiveness in every person. Mouzoon said this is another reason to continue wearing a mask.

“It’s worth recognizing you are still at risk because all vaccines are a little less effective the older you are,” Mouzoon said.

The AARP has a lot of information for those 65+ and the COVID vaccine.

6. Should a person get the COVID vaccine even if they already had COVID?

Yes, you should still get the vaccine but should wait 3-4 months after you recover to get it.

Here is what the CDC says: Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person. It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection. We won’t know how long immunity produced by a vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.

Questions about COVID and the vaccine

Do you have a question about the COVID vaccine? Submit your questions to Ask 2 and our newsroom staff will work to find you the best answers. You can also share your COVID vaccine story with us.

About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning anchor, husband, dad, German Shepherd owner, Crossfitter, Game of Thrones junkie, chupacabra hunter.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.