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Published on March 02, 2021

Woman receiving COVID-19 vaccine

I'm vaccinated. Now what?

The COVID-19 vaccine is our way out of the pandemic. While the vaccine offers a high level of protection against hospitalization and serious illness caused by the virus, it's important to continue safety measures, like masking. Gundersen Infection Preventionists Megan Meller and Meghan Buechel answer your questions about what happens after you're vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why do I need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The second dose dramatically strengthens your immune response. Both doses are necessary to achieve the highest level of protection against COVID-19.

How soon am I immune to COVID-19? 

You'll reach a maximum protection level of 95% within two weeks after you receive your second dose.

What side effects can I expect from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pain or swelling at the injection site is common. You may also feel tired and have a fever, chills, and headache. You'll feel better within a few days. Remember, mild side effects are normal as your body builds protection against COVID-19.

Are there long-term effects from the COVID-19 vaccine? 

The vaccines are safe and effective. The risk of developing long-term side effects is far smaller than the risk of contracting COVID-19 and ending up with long-term health problems.

Will I still have to mask and social distance after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Yes and no. According to the CDC, you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without masking. You can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with is at an increased risk for COVID-19. Otherwise, continue masking and distancing.

Can I go out to eat? Travel?

Right now, you should follow the same safety practices as those who aren't vaccinated. If you choose to fly or go out to eat after vaccination, consider individual risk factors, like your age or underlying health conditions. We are still learning how long immunity lasts and no vaccine is 100% protective.

what to expect

We've taken steps at all our locations to keep you and our staff healthy and safe. Here's what to expect when you visit us.

Stay safe