I've had my first shot; can I act like I'm fully vaxxed?

I got my first Pfizer shot over two weeks ago. I will be going to my scheduled second shot. I’ve done some reading and the current best evidence shows that right now I’m as protected from COVID as I’ll ever be, or close to it. My understanding is that the second shot is possibly unnecessary and more for long-term protection than immediate.

So, as the title asks, can I act like I’m fully vaxxed? If not, why not? If yes, do I need to pause after the second shot? What’s the best research?

Just to be clear, no matter what anybody says here I will be getting my second shot. I’d just like to go to the stores a few weeks early.

Could you link to what you’ve been reading? Not that I’ve looked, but I haven’t seen anything come through my news feeds suggesting that.

IIRC, the protection is something like 60-80% two weeks after your first shot, and over 95% two weeks after the second.

In other words, you’re safer than you were before, but you really ought to still get that second shot and take some precautions for a few more weeks.

Can you? Sure. Should you?

The advice I’ve always heard is “wait until two weeks after your SECOND injection, and even then don’t go around behaving as if there were no pandemic; you’ve got as much immunity as medical science can give you at the moment but you are not 100% guaranteed not to get infected”.

OTOH, anyone who waits for a 100% guarantee is gonna be waiting for…um…a while.

To me, it’s most accurate to say that at two weeks after the second injection, you are about as immune as current medical science can get you for at least six months. Whether that’s enough is probably up to you.

Yes, that is the essence of what I was driving at.

Yes. Real world data that’s been reported is that Pfizer and Moderna provide around 80% protection from the first shot, and then that goes up to 90-91%* two weeks after the second.

There are thousands of people who’ve gotten Covid after being fully vaccinated, and a large group who’ve gotten it after just the first shot, as well.

90% efficacy is outstanding, but it’s not perfect.

What do you mean by acting like you’re fully vaxed? Following CDC guidelines? A couple of weeks out from the first shot, maybe you have as much as or more protection than a person with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will ever get. But it’s not that much longer to wait until fully vaccinated. I don’t know. I will continue to be cautious even after I have my full efficacy because I have unvaccinated kids.

*I don’t know if this is a difference in outcome from the research, or if the timeline has changed for how the protection is expressed.

Just to sum up - you’re more protected but it’s still all about risk reduction, not risk elimination, and it’s probably a good idea to continue to observe basic social distancing and other pandemic hygiene practices because there are a lot of other people out there who are not only unvaccinated but reckless and stupid. Better safe than sorry.

In other words, don’t be this guy:

After considering some more, I think the OP question greatly depends on what they did before the pandemic, what they intend to do when fully immune. There’s a lot of space between being at home alone and going out to lick wild animals. If my reading of the latest CDC is right, you’re probably as safe as you can get being around relatively small crowds of people. Is it a great idea to go to SD Comic-Con? That I’m not so sure about. But it certainly sounds like you can go to a bar or whatever with a mask and feel as safe as you can get.

Thanks for all the responses. First off, I plan on continuing to follow CDC guidelines. My question is can I follow guidelines for “fully vaccinated” in my current state? I have been following CDC guidelines pretty close to the letter since late summer (and mostly following them previously).

The data I was looking at can be found here at Lancet. It’s dense with stats but here’s the part I focused on:

A recent analysis of BNT162b2 vaccine data estimated vaccine efficacy of 89–91% during days 15–28 after the first dose.

That’s pretty darn close to the expected efficacy after two doses and I’m currently in the 15-28 day window. There are lots of caveats and competing stats, as there always is with good medical science. The article is originally from mid February. Nothing is ever certain, which is why I’m asking about your opinions.

If you follow the federal or state government requirements / guidelines / advice for “fully vaccinated” will you be in compliance with their stuff? Strictly speaking, No. Because you’re not fully vaccinated as that term is defined. Can you do it anyhow? Yes. Are you as immune as you’ll be 2 weeks post 2nd dose? Not quite. is the difference enough to matter? Depends; do ya feel lucky, @Deeg? Well … do ya?

In between these choices is 100% judgement being made in the absence of data. Which is to say guesswork.

My personal choice was to alter none of my behavior between before dose 1 and 2 weeks post dose 2. But to alter my attitude towards the larger picture of whether risk/reward for me and for my behavior will improve soon or not.

This is the key sentence.

What have you been doing the last year-ish? If you’ve been hiding at home like a hermit for the last year+ then even 2 weeks after your second dose you “going to the stores” (whatever that means to you) will be vastly increasing your risk over anything you’ve run for the last 14 months, vaccinated or no. Are you ready to vastly increase your risk? If not, stay home until you are.

Millions of Americans are unvaccinated and are running around like COVID is over. Those folks are out there and your shiny full vaccination is a shield that stops roughly 9 of their 10 assaults on you.

Getting away from the idea that pre-vax meant only hermit-living was safe enough and that post-vax life is 2019 again is key. The vaccinated among us have only gone from severely fed to partly fed. Nothing more than that. It won’t get materially better until substantially all of humanity is vaccinated some time in 2024.

Late edit. This

should read

severely f ***ed to partly f***ed.

@LSLGuy: That isn’t an improvement.

Your fix is half-vaxxed.

ETA: Upon second re-reading, I get it. The formatting still needs work. Were you trying for “severely f***ed to partly f***ed” or something along those lines?

Oops. Left one stray space in there. Sorry 'bout that Mr. Eagle-eyes. :wink:

Heh! cute. I like it. Especially in context of the thread.

I think that’s unnecessarily gloomy, because not only does the vaccination provide a “90% shield” from getting infected if exposed, it massively reduces the chance of a severe infection if you DO get infected.

And that last part is key. The goal was never to eliminate COVID-19 with vaccinations like we did with smallpox. It was to bring down the hospitalization and death rates to acceptable levels that we can function as a normal society, where death by illness (and concentrated among the elderly and immunocompromised) has ALWAYS been a risk - this would just be another, newer risk in the bucket.

I’ll agree that “post-vax life is back to 2019” is not true on a person-to-person basis, but only because a minority of society is yet vaccinated.

Already one can “get back to normal” in terms of congregating with friends indoors and without masks, like having games, dinner, and a movie in your dining room with 20 people, if everybody has been vaccinated… And outdoors, even more so. Like being on DEFCON 3, not quite 4 because we still have to be ready to resume restrictions if a variant proves significantly troublesome for the vaccinations already administered.

The ongoing “continue to wear masks and maintain social distance in indoor areas even after fully vaccinated” thing is primarily to maintain a society-wide level of “DEFCON 2” until more people are vaccinated. There are a lot of unvaccinated people wanting to think it’s all over already without them doing anything further, and that’s not likely to be true.

Risk of going to the store after receiving 1 shot - what is the goal post we are talking about here? People talk about efficacy - but many of the quoted numbers seem to be about simply the chance of catching the disease despite vaccination.

Personally my goal has always been not to die, wind up in the hospital or have long term effects from Covid-19. If I catch Covid but only wind up with short term cold or flu symptoms that doesn’t sound like something I really need to go out of my way to avoid. I am referring to efficacy by severity of Covid-19 and there is some literature about this. From what is known so far - is appears that 3 weeks following a first shot a person is already really safe (100% safe per results so far) from hospitalization or death.

Now - this isn’t to say I or any other person 3 weeks out of their first shot should go back to normal life - as there is still a relatively high risk of having a mild to moderate case of Covid-19 you don’t want to be ‘that’ guy who spreads it to your neighbors, friends and family who may not have the shot. I certainly do not want to give it to my children and will continue to do what I can to not catch it. But from a personal perspective now that I have had my first shot I feel relatively ‘safe’ based on what I’ve read. This is good - because as a Canadian I am told to wait 4 months for the next shot while our government uses our resources to get everyone that all important 1st shot.