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I got my COVID-19 vaccine — what can and can't I do? Guidelines from the CDC and others

People walk while wearing masks in Port Jefferson

People walk while wearing masks in Port Jefferson in October. More than a third of Long Island residents are now fully vaccinated Credit: Morgan Campbell

More than a third of Long Islanders are now fully vaccinated. So, what can you do now that you’re vaccinated that you couldn’t do before? And what won’t change?

There are some clear guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other authorities. Other decisions depend on your comfort level or are case-by-case dependent.

Keep in mind you’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your last required dose, according to the CDC. So, two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson or two weeks after your second shot of Pfizer or Moderna.

*If you're still looking for a vaccine appointment, or are trying to help someone find one, check this guide for some resources. Keep in mind all New Yorkers 16 and older are currently eligible to be vaccinated. All New Yorkers age 16 and older can walk in for their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment at state-run mass vaccination sites.

Current CDC recommendations

The CDC updated its guidance on Thursday for what you can do after being fully vaccinated. New York State will follow the guidance on masks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

Some of the CDC recommendations include, if you’re fully vaccinated:

  • You can be indoors with other fully vaccinated people, without wearing a mask or social distancing.
  • You can gather with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors, without wearing a mask or social distancing, unless they’re high-risk.
  • You don’t have to wear a mask outdoors, unless you’re in a crowded setting or venue.
  • You don’t have to quarantine or get tested if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, unless you have symptoms.
  • You must continue wearing a mask and socially distance from others in public settings indoors, on public transportation, around unvaccinated people from more than one other household or around a high-risk unvaccinated person.
  • You should continue to avoid large indoor gatherings.

If you’re traveling while fully vaccinated:

  • You are still required to wear masks on public transportation including planes, buses and trains, and in transportation hubs.
  • You don’t need to take a COVID-19 test or self-quarantine before or after traveling in the United States.
  • You don't need to take a COVID-19 test before traveling internationally, unless your destination requires one. But you do need to show a negative test or proof of recovery of COVID-19 before traveling into the United States. The CDC also recommends you get tested three to five days after your trip. Your destination may have other requirements, so be sure to check before planning a trip.

See more examples of safe activities — and those that are less safe — in these charts from the CDC.

Your vaccination card

What do you do with your vaccination card after getting vaccinated?

  • Keep it in a safe place. You may also want to make a photocopy.
  • The CDC recommends taking a photo of the card after your final dose.
  • If you’ve lost your card, the CDC has guidance on what to do.
  • Here are some more answers to questions about the importance of the card.

A third shot?

  • The CEO of Pfizer said it’s "likely" you’ll need another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine within 12 months of being fully vaccinated.
  • The makers of the two other shots authorized in the U.S. — Johnson & Johnson and Moderna — made similar predictions.

The Excelsior Pass

The state is offering the Excelsior Pass, a digital pass you can use to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test if a venue requires it. You can get one here: epass.ny.gov/home, and you can download the Excelsior Pass Wallet app to store it on your phone.

You can get a pass if you haven’t tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days and you meet one of the following, according to the state:

  • You’ve been fully vaccinated.
  • You had a negative PCR test result in the last three days.
  • You had a negative antigen test result in the last six hours.

Capacity guidelines

Starting May 19, the state is removing most capacity restrictions for businesses and institutions, and is easing limits on large gatherings. Until then, whether you’ve been vaccinated or not:

  • Gatherings at private residences are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors; social gatherings in public are limited to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. See more guidance from the state. The limit on outdoor social gatherings will increase to 500 on May 10.
    • On May 19, the limit on indoor social gatherings will go to 250, the limit of 25 people on outdoor residential gatherings will be eliminated and the limit on indoor residential gatherings will increase to 50, the state said.
  • Restaurants on Long Island and across most of the state can operate at 75% capacity. Indoor dining in New York City will expand from 50% to 75% capacity on May 7.
  • Indoor and outdoor graduation ceremonies will be permitted with different capacity limits and requirements for guests depending on the number of people in attendance. See the new guidance here and what some colleges on LI have planned.
  • Weddings and catered events are permitted at venues with up to 150 people or 50% capacity of the site — whichever is smaller. A negative test result or proof of vaccination will be required before the events.
  • Museums and zoos can have up to 50% capacity and movie theaters can have 33% capacity. See more details.
  • Horse and auto racing events: Capacity is limited to 20% for outdoor events with face masks required, social distancing in effect and showing proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test.
  • Starting May 7, hair salons, barbershops and other personal care facilities across the state can be at 75% capacity.
  • Starting May 15, offices will expand capacity from 50% to 75% and gyms and fitness clubs can go to 50%. Casinos and gaming venues will expand from 25% to 50% capacity. Read more.
  • Starting May 19, the state is outdoor stadiums can increase capacity from 20% to 33%. On the same day, large indoor arenas can have 30% capacity.

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