PORTLAND, Ore. — The only constant this entire pandemic has been the ever-changing set of guidelines and that includes what experts recommend you can and cannot safely do once fully vaccinated.
KGW's vaccine team brought your most common questions to KGW's medical expert Dr. Payal Kohli and Oregon Health Authority State Health Deputy Tom Jeanne.
Do you believe that people know what they should and should not be doing based on the CDC recommendations?
Dr. Payal Kohli: No and in fact, I think this is a huge fail and I will take responsibility as a medical professional because initially the message we kept putting out there was don't do anything different.
And part of the reason we were putting that message out there was that we wanted to make sure everyone got vaccinated before we started changing policy on a larger level.
But the actual truth is that individuals who are fully vaccinated can interact with other individuals that are fully vaccinated with changes with, you know, loosening of the restrictions that we've been talking about. But I think that message got lost because of the bigger public health message, which was don't do anything different as a population.
According to CDC guidelines, can a vaccinated person hug another vaccinated person?
Dr. Payal Kohli: So, a vaccinated person can safely hug another vaccinated person without a mask because they're both likely to have developed antibodies. The only caveat to this is they have to be at least two weeks out from the last dose of their vaccination.
Can a vaccinated person attend a party or gathering if all of the people have been vaccinated?
Dr. Payal Kohli: Indeed, according to the new CDC guidelines, vaccinated people can attend gatherings that are small. So you still want to keep it, you know, about five, maybe 10 max with other vaccinated, people that are fully vaccinated by being at least two weeks out.
The guideline actually says that you can mix in one unvaccinated person or couple as long as they're from the same household, but I'm more conservative than that because I think that's a slippery slope.
You just have to be a little bit careful about mixing in those unvaccinated people, because remember they're the ones at the highest risk,
Can a vaccinated person safely travel by airplane according to the CDC?
Dr. Payal Kohli: A vaccinated person can travel much more safely than they could a year ago. At this time, I would still recommend all the precautions of masking potentially even double masking, like I like to do, making sure your hands are clean, not touching your face.
And the reason is that vaccinated people can still get sick, particularly in the face of these new variants.
Has the Oregon Health Authority changed its guidance based on these new CDC recommendations?
Yes, we are in alignment with CDC. We are following their guidance and passing that along to Oregonians. Those guidance documents have been updated as a way to get vaccinated people kind of down that path that looks more normal. The main changes are, once you are fully vaccinated, two weeks after that final dose. It would be ok for you to visit either inside or outside in private settings with other people who are fully vaccinated without masks and physical distancing.
For those people who are fully vaccinated, we are still asking them to wear a mask and keep their distance in public. It's the private gatherings where the loosened restrictions apply.
If people can do all of these other things, why is the recommendation for people to still wear the mask and social distance?
Dr. Payal Kohli:
So there's a couple of reasons for that. One is the public health implications. So, you know, even though vaccinated, people can safely gather with other vaccinated people, we don't yet have compelling, scientific evidence whether the vaccinated people may actually be giving off the virus in their droplets and they could make unvaccinated people sick.
Do you have a vaccine-related story for Cristin? Email us at CallCristin@kgw.com