Your social comfort level once vaxed

I wonder if we’ll learn that this is a lot less common than we’ve been taught too. It seems to have taken many in the scientific community by surprise that microdroplets have played such a big role in covid transmission - it stands to reason this is at least partly true of other respiratory diseases also.

Or maybe the reason we’re not catching colds is that while wearing a mask we touch our noses & mouths a LOT less frequently.

I’m a week past my second shot and I would be comfortable going back to pre-COVID normal. I went to the grocery store the other day and it was packed because they were taking inventory. I tried to be sensitive to others and distanced as best I could but I personally wasn’t worried. (I thought it weird that they’d take inventory during normal hours, though.)

Well yes, but we’ll say that in a pleasant sounding way.

Update: I’ve been out a couple of times now, and can say I’m pretty comfortable.

That’s probably helped by the fact that everyone, with a really tiny number of exceptions, was wearing masks indoors (like when going to the loo), and although social distancing has definitely gone waaay down, there was still some effort at it - I think anyone who really felt the need for a longer gap between people in the toilet queue would have got it without argument, for example.

It also helps that I work from home, and so are most people I know who can work from home, which reduces the weekday risk.

The biggest risk was the tube - that was back to pre-covid times, so packed we had to wait for a second train before we could even get on. No social distancing possible there at all. For myself, I didn’t feel at risk, but it might have been different for other people having to be stuffed in there.

It was a Saturday so half the tube lines were shut for engineering works, which always means the remaining lines are crowded. TBH I think at the moment weekdays are probably less busy on the tube - the people who actually have to go in to work in person are generally shift workers who work weekends as much as weekdays - but it’s a bit late in the day to change the schedules of engineering works.

Also the govt has provided flow testing kits you can take at home before you go out. I haven’t done one because they make me projectile vomit, which is incredibly messy and not good for my own health, and the things I’ve gone to have been outdoors. I’ve ordered some so that I can do tests via nasal swabs instead.

It actually feels like a fairly sensible route towards normality.

I was thinking the same thing.

The whole large droplet and fomite thing has a little bit of history. There was emphasis on this as push back against the ancient “miasmas”. There was also strict definitions of airborne vs. droplet. With better tracking technology and computational modeling, they now know that there is a gradient in size between what is considered airborne particles in aerosols and what are droplets that fall to the ground.

There is also a lot more work on how infectious virions remain within certain droplets, viral loads in expelled droplets, how much virion does it take to infect someone, etc.

I’ve come to a decision.

On May 28, the second of my two vaccinations will fully kick in.

On May 29, I’m taking a mask and going out to an indoor location with strangers and possibly questionable ventilation.

Because I can.

My (2 +2) fully-vaccinated date is about three days away. I’m also going to go to a restaurant and probably sit indoors. I don’t know which restaurant it’ll be, but I’m leaning towards Thai.

All the restaurants I’ve seen with indoor seating lately have spaced their tables far apart and are leaving all the doors open, so I think I can rely on my vaxx status and the restaurant’s safeguards at this point.

I’m two weeks and a few days out from my second shot, so I guess I’m as immune as it’s possible for me to get.

I guess I’m a bit more comfortable in some situations, but I wouldn’t say I’m totally relaxed.

Yesterday I was able to visit my father, who is resident in a “memory care” facility. He was vaccinated some time ago, being in a high (possibly the highest) risk category.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve been traveling around the city almost exclusively by bicycle, but yesterday it was raining. So I took the subway. I still wore one of my dwindling stash of real N95 masks. I still stayed as far away from all the other passengers as possible, especially from the usual crowed of unmasked idiots, some (or none, for all I know) of whom may have been vaccinated.

My father’s memory care residence still requires visitors to wear masks, which is fine with me.

My social sphere of people I see in the physical world is small. One sibling, maybe two friends. A larger group of siblings and friends don’t live anywhere near me, and I don’t see them all that often anyway. Plenty of Zoom/Skype/whatever calls, but that’s just the norm.

So I guess I’m saying my comfort level, and what I’m doing and how I’m living, have changed hardly at all. I guess I’m not quite as worried as I was a few months ago, but my behavior is exactly the same, and I don’t see that changing for quite a while.

I’m glad I’m vaccinated, of course, but it pretty much changes nothing right now.

On the other hand, the fact of other people being vaccinated has changed some important things. For example, it makes it possible for me to visit my father. Which is good. The too-long period of time for which he couldn’t have visitors was really not helpful. That’s definitely not good for people suffering from dementia.

And in the (hopefully near) future, I expect that my comfort level will go up. My firm is still discouraging employees from returning to the office, so nothing has changed there, unfortunately. I’m one of those apparently rare people who actually hates working from home, and when the firm starts permitting us to return to the office, at that point the vaccine will very much affect my comfort level.

Why not? Are you concerned more for your own health or for others? Does that mean you oppose any loosening of restrictions in general? Until when? How do you interpret the CDC’s nifty infographic and public statements?

(Sorry if it seems like I’m picking on you, but anyone who feels the way you do are welcome to answer. I’m just trying to probe the origins of people’s decisions, so I can decide if my own decisions make me reckless or selfish or whatever.)

My take on your parenthetical comment:

My societal concern is that we / CDC are reducing precautions faster than we are gaining collective immunity. As a fully vaccinated person whose social circle is the same I’m very little concerned for my own health.

But I am concerned that we are setting up for a monster resurgence of COVID amongst the unvaccinated and we’ll find then that reintroducing any public behavior restrictions just won’t work; the public (and especially the unvaccinated public) will ignore them. Then the economy will duly tank. Again.

So to some degree, me being serious about masking even in the places and situations that others are not is part of providing a social cue to everyone around me that it’s still OK to be cautious. Masking & distancing went from “Only weirdos do it” to “Only weirdos (and Trumpers) don’t do it” very quickly back in ~April 2020. I believe a lot of dead people and a lot of economic damage will almost inevitably follow from when society at large changes back to “Only weirdos do it”. If nothing else, the monster reservoir of COVID in the rest of the world will wash over us as soon as international travel resumes in bulk. Which it will soon enough.

The CDC has to walk a line between what’s scientifically sound, what’s optimal given a hypothetical population entirely of Vulcans, and what advice the actual public we actually have is willing to listen to. Including of course the RW media-besotted segment who won’t listen to anything.

So the fact I’m playing my life (when/where I can) more conservative than their advice is essentially me recognizing their messaging is leaning a little to the other side for public palatability. And also that society as a whole will arrange their behavior in a (lopsided) Bell curve on both sides of their advice. Knowing many people will choose the incautious side, I’m wiling to volunteer to be an extra good citizen and take the other side of that balancing act. Despite it being the short(er) end of the stick. Partly because the rest of my life circumstances make that objectively easier / less impactful for me than for many others, and partly because I try to be an extra good citizen for ethical reasons. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

I’m concerned for my own health and for the health of others. I’m not concerned that I’m personally a risk to others – I’ve done everything possible to reduce that risk – or that there’s much risk to me. I was super-careful before the vaccine, and never saw anyone socially indoors unless I had a negative PCR test no more than three days old. Now that I’m vaccinated, the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone is as low as it’s possible to get right now. As is the risk of getting COVID-19.

But I am concerned because it’s becoming very clear that we are never going to achieve the levels of vaccination necessary to put this behind us. It’s never going to go away. And I think we’re going to have another wave of COVID soon enough that will tank our economy just as it’s coming back.

But also, I said that my comfort level after vaccination isn’t all that different from my comfort level before vaccination because vaccination doesn’t really change much for me.

I’m still working from home, and my firm is in no hurry to call everyone back to the office. In fact, my firm plans to extend the work-from-home option indefinitely, and would do that even if the virus miraculously mutated into something harmless tomorrow. The firm’s motivation is purely economic – they’re going to save a huge amount of money on real estate costs, and plan to move to new headquarters that are designed around a policy of no more than 60% of staff being in the office at any given time.

My social circle of friends and family who live near enough to me for regular in-person contact is quite small. It will be nice, at some point in the future, to be able travel to see other friends and family members, or have them travel to see me.

I am glad that I’m able to visit my father in his nursing home. That’s the biggest difference vaccination has made.

So when I said my comfort level wasn’t changed much, it wasn’t because I doubt the effectiveness of the vaccination. It was just because being vaccinated doesn’t really change the way I’m living right now.

I’ve got two things on my schedule, now that I’m fully vaccinated + two weeks:

  1. I’m flying to see my mother, whom I haven’t seen since December 2019 (nor have I seen any family member other than my wife during that span).

  2. A coworker friend is coming over next week so we can enjoy a socially-distanced (and masked, for me) walk around the neighborhood. I haven’t seen any friend or coworker since March 10, 2020.

Beyond that, I did attend a baseball game a few days after my second shot. Outdoors, masks required, and 20% capacity, so everyone was spread out. I find that, by and large, I still want to be cautious (a little bit out of concern for myself, and a lot for the reasons cited in the last paragraph from @LSLGuy above). My wife and I still wear masks when taking walks outdoors. We’re still not comfortable dining out (though we’ve had several “dates” where we get curbside pickup, park, and eat in the parking lot). I still double-mask if I’m going to be in a supermarket or some other indoor setting for more than a dash in-and-out.

Overall, I just find that wearing masks causes me little-to-no inconvenience, and might possibly be doing me a world of good. I don’t see any reason to stop wearing them for the time being. The only change is that I’m a little more willing to be out in public than I was before getting my shots.

My gf went online yesterday and purchased airline tickets to St Martin for January 2022. She had decided to go, I had not yet decided. I ended up biting the bullet, although I suppose I can still back out.

I really, really, really do not want to get on a plane, even though we are both fully vaccinated.

As a sorta-counterpoint to my own post 4 posts ago, here’s me in a similar thread from just after my first Moderna. In which I take a more permissive tack.

While I believe I’m careful, I sure didn’t / don’t do the [hide indoors alone for a year seeing nobody and doing nothing in public] that so many Dopers seem to have embraced. I’m adjusting my post-vax behavior from a very different pre-vax baseline than those folks will (or won’t) be doing.

See also the post 2 down from this one for more (self-serving?) rationale.

As more studies come out regarding the lack of antibodies/ lowered efficacy of the vaccines on people with compromised immune systems, my social comfort level is not much different than before I received the vaccine.
I have not tested to see my personal level of antibodies, as my insurance will not cover it. I have read we tend to have a 45-50% level of immunity and a good T cell reaction after the second dose, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to quite understand everything I’ve read.
I did attend a family picnic yesterday, sans mask. Everyone was vaccinated, we were far apart from other families, and we kept a decent distance from each other. I was comfortable, at least from a COVID perspective.
Later, my daughter brought up going to the state fair and RenFest in September. I immediately had a brief flash of panic. Our state fair is massive, always shoulder to shoulder, so I don’t know. This year is the 50th anniversary of the RenFest, so I presume will also be packed. As of today, I’m thinking I’d go masked, despite it being 100% outdoors.

I guess this is the part that confuses me about people who say not much changes for them after vaccination, because to me, it’s always been self-evidently the case that this was never going to go away – we have only ever eradicated one human disease, and it took longer than a single human lifespan to do so, and it was a disease that killed about 30% of the people who caught it, so there was a lot more urgency and public will behind the effort than there is ever likely to be for COVID. And, since that’s the case, the choices for any given individual pretty much come down to 1) drop whatever precautions you’re taking once you, personally, are vaccinated; or 2) keep them up for the rest of your life. That’s it. There’s no additional endpoint on the horizon. I guess you could pick one for yourself (“I’m going to do X when new cases in my community drop below Y in 100,000” or whatever), but doing that seem sort of arbitrary, and there’s always a chance it might never come.

So, I’m not disputing your premise, but to me it leads to exactly the opposite conclusion – now that I’m vaxed, I’m going back to 2019 normal life, or at least any parts of 2019 normal life that I’m not willing to live without forever. (Apart from obeying specific rules, that is – I wear a mask anywhere it’s required or requested, and I expect I’ll be dutifully telling my students to wipe down their desk space in the fall even though pretty much all of the evidence suggests this is security theater – but I’m good with obeying those rules because I trust that they’ll eventually go away.)

Well, so am I (except that my work situation might be different, which I’m not all that happy about). And I look forward to traveling more, and seeing more people, than I have in the last year.

But I’m still going to take precautions. I’ll still prefer traveling around the city by bicycle than using the subway. And, when I have to use the subway, or go to the supermarket, I’ll wear a mask.

My wife and I have enjoyed “social distancing” and generally avoiding people much more than I probably care to admit. We’ve never been hermits or socially awkward. We’ve enjoyed travel and getting out to theater, museums or a nice evening out at a restaurant during pre-covid times. But secretly we’ve always been closeted misanthropes all our lives, and this pandemic has really brought that out in us in spades. Frankly, the thought of going out among the unwashed masses has less appeal to us than ever. Having both been vaccinated, we had our first meal out in about 16 months. It was one of our favorite local spots that served reliably good Lebanese style food. But it was not nearly as good as it used to be and the entire experience with mask-on/mask-off was really disappointingly mediocre. Honestly, we wished we’d just done take-out rather than suffer the awkwardness of being in a restaurant half filled with people trying to social distance and waiters apprehensively approaching tables to deliver heat lamp warmed fare. If this is the state of things for the foreseeable future, we’re just as happy to self-quarantine for another 16 months until things are either back to the old normal or some other alternative.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’d just as soon wait until masks are no longer a necessary part of public life. I’m still going to hate being among crowds of people, but at least there won’t be that pall of awkwardness about things that used to be perfectly normal.

We’ve been to a lot of restaurants in the past month or so. Everyone around here (Seattle area, but not Seattle proper) wears a mask going in, takes it off when seated, and puts in on to leave. The only difference from 2019 is that the staff is wearing masks (and the tables are a bit further apart). The service has been good to great, and the food also as good as we remembered.