What are our lives like after vaccination? Are things back to normal?
A friend of mine who is a nurse mentioned a recent invitation to have dinner with some members of her family. She and her husband are fully vaccinated and relatively protected from Covid. As has been true for many people, it has been a rough year for her with a lot of work and very little socialization. She was looking forward to getting together with family. Then she got a “by the way” from the family member: “We haven’t been vaccinated and don’t plan to and we don’t wear masks at home”. Hearing that, my friend politely stated that she and her husband would not go. I can imagine the conversations inside the heads of the nurse and of the family member. One more source of stress in the Covid wars.
Some things seem too extreme. An older couple has had very little interaction with others for over a year. Outside the home they are invariably masked and wearing gloves. The wife stays inside the car, barely venturing out. This couple is fully vaccinated. However, life remains very “abnormal” for them. Exercise means walking in the living room. Any invitation results in an automatic “oh, no!!”
Here is another situation I heard about: A couple, both fully vaccinated, have decided to have a high school graduation party for their son. They plan to invite 100 people. Their invitation includes this message:
The couple states it is an important celebration and a time to celebrate. They realize that some invitees are very likely to be unvaccinated and that many people will not be wearing masks because, of course, there will be food.
“Despite these unknowns, fully vaccinated people can resume several activities now, at low risk to themselves…” - CDC Interim Recommendations
What activities are now safe for
older people and their caregivers?
Several months ago we were not quite sure how effective the vaccines would be for seniors because the trials did not specifically focus on older adults. We have good news now. More than half of all seniors in the United States are fully vaccinated and there is strong evidence that the vaccines are working.
Nevertheless, we still need to be cautious. There are still many cases of Covid and more infectious variants are appearing. The vaccine decreases but does not eliminate the risk of getting sick. I recommend a relatively conservative approach to gatherings for fully vaccinated older people and their caregivers:
- Gatherings should have no more than ten people.
- Outdoor and well ventilated gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.
- Generally maintain physical distance between people who do not live together.
- Continue to wear a mask when out in the general public or when near people who might not be vaccinated.
Some final thoughts
- Things are not back to normal but, especially for people who have been vaccinated, there is not as much a necessity to live in a bubble.
- Covid has caused separation and loneliness for many older people. The ability to see, chat, and be with others is important for wellbeing. Emotional health is as important as physical health; being connected is important.
- If people ask you to go places, it is a good idea to find out the details.
- Do not feel obliged to accept invitations. Do what feels right to you. Every person is different.
Also be aware that conditions vary across the country. Some areas continue to have higher rates of infection.
PS: To learn more, please take a look at the 2 pdf's on the efficacy of the Covid vaccines and the CDC's information on activities for fully vaccinated people.