Outdoors in the sunlight, a smiling woman embraces a child lovingly.

March 22, 2021

If you need another reason to get the vaccine, here’s a big one: A taste of freedom.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson greatly reduces your chance of catching COVID-19 and your risk of hospitalization or death.

The CDC’s new guidelines say, once fully vaccinated, you will be free to enjoy some liberties we once took for granted:

  • Entertaining friends and family indoors without masks if they also are fully vaccinated.
  • Being indoors without masks when visiting unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease. But if meeting more than one household, stay outdoors, wear masks and keep socially distanced.
  • Visit unvaccinated people who are not at increased risk of COVID-19. At risk individuals still include those who are pregnant, obese, smoke or have diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, long term kidney ailments or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Skip isolating or getting tested if you’ve been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and have no symptoms.

There are exceptions: If you live in or visit a group setting such as assisted living or correctional facilities, you need to stay away weeks after being within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.

If you work in a health care setting, you must continue to wear personal protective equipment to keep you and others safe.

Vaccinated grandparents can visit and enjoy your hugs and those of your unvaccinated children, as long as you limit guests to your household and none of you are at risk for severe COVID-19.

According to the CDC, vaccinated Americans can travel domestically and no longer need to test before or after trips. If you travel outside the states, however, there may be different testing requirements by the destination.

Still Off-Limits

You still must wear masks, stay 6 feet or more away from others and handwash regularly when in the company of unvaccinated people from more than one household. The CDC says to avoid mass gatherings such as at bars, weddings, funerals, sporting events and concerts.

The Future

About three in 10 people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you have yet to receive your vaccine, know that doing so could bring freedom to yourself—and others. When 70-90% of Americans get vaccinated, we’ll reach herd immunity. Experts estimate that our U.S. vaccine supply will be enough to vaccinate all adults by summer.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine »

The information in this article was accurate as of April 28, 2021.

In Dec. 2021, the CDC issued a preferential recommendation for the use of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. (Pfizer and Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing rare but serious side effects. Throughout the pandemic, Memorial Hermann has closely followed guidance from the CDC as well as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the State. As such, Memorial Hermann now recommends the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for those who meet vaccine eligibility.

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