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The do's and don'ts of getting back to 'normal life' after you've been vaccinated

Can grandparents visit and hug their grandchildren? Can you throw a small party indoors? NBC News health editor Madelyn Fernstrom answers the most frequently asked questions.
Image: Covid-19 vaccination
Jordyn Schmid receives a COVID vaccination from Lauren Mazanowksi, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, on March 11, 2021.Nate Guidry / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

There’s a lot of excitement—and relief—when you’re fully immunized against the Covid-19 virus.

Fully immunized means two weeks after your second dose for the two-dose vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, and two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson and Johnson.

But at the same time, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about getting back to your usual activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some new guidelines to help you make decisions.

Be aware that these are simply starting guidelines, based on what’s known about the virus and the vaccines right now. As more information is collected on the millions of people worldwide getting immunized, there will likely be updates to these guidelines.

Here are the answers to seven frequently asked questions about “real world” activities after getting vaccinated, based on the latest CDC guidance:

Can grandparents visit their grandchildren in a home if they have been vaccinated?

YES. Grandparents can visit without masks or distancing in any one household if all members are vaccinated or unvaccinated people are present but not at high-risk of contracting Covid-19 (children, young people with no co-morbidities).

Can I hug relatives who live outside the home if I've been vaccinated?

YES. You can hug vaccinated people and those who are unvaccinated and at low risk for contracting the virus (including children). The risk comes to those who are not vaccinated, not to you.

Can I have a party inside your home if everyone has been vaccinated?

NOT ADVISED. For the time being, medium size and large in-person gatherings of all types are discouraged. While the exact number of people at a “gathering” is not stated by the CDC, the current guidelines recommend a single household. If multiple households are involved—for vaccinated people—mask wearing is still advised.

Do I still need to wear a mask in public if I've been vaccinated?

YES. Masking is still recommended at all times when you are out in public (like grocery stores), and when interacting with unvaccinated people in more than one household. And be mindful of keeping a six-foot distance. Even if you are vaccinated you may infect others who are not vaccinated.

Can I travel more freely now – especially by plane?

NOT ADVISED. Leisure air travel is still discouraged by the CDC, based on data showing a spike in cases during periods of increased air travel. While this is your choice to make, if you must fly, take recommended safety precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. Eye protection is also advised, either with glasses or a face shield.

Can I attend large events where others might not be vaccinated?

NOT ADVISED. While large events are not recommended for any groups—vaccinated or not—if you do choose to attend a large event (outside of one household), mask wearing and social distancing are advised.

Do I have to quarantine if I have been exposed to someone with Covid-19?

NO. You do not need to stay away from others or quarantine for 14 days if you do not have any symptoms—and you don’t need a test. If you DO have symptoms, get tested, stay home and away from others.

And whether you are vaccinated or not, for public safety it’s still important to follow all of the basic prevention steps:

-wear a mask

-wash your hands

-keep a six foot distance

-avoid crowds

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. is NBC News’ health editor. Follow her on Twitter: @drfernstrom.