COVID-19: After You Get the Vaccine

On Thursday May 13, the CDC released updated guidance that fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did before the pandemic, including participating in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small – without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

Mask wearing continues to be an important COVID-19 mitigation strategy in public transportation, schools, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and other settings where additional regulations still exist, regardless of vaccination status. DHS is currently working on updating webpages and publications to include updated guidance for fully vaccinated people. We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Follow this checklist after you get your COVID-19 vaccine:

 Know the common side effects.

You may experience side effects. This is normal and can be a sign that the vaccine is starting to work. Common side effects include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Pain or swelling on your arm where you got the vaccine

Reduce discomfort where you got the vaccine by placing a clean, wet washcloth over the area. Drink plenty of fluids, rest, and dress lightly if you develop a fever. Even if you experience side effects from the first dose, it is really important that you get your second dose so you have full protection.

 Know when to call a health care provider.

Discomfort from fever or pain is normal. However, contact a health care provider if:

  • Redness or tenderness increases after 24 hours.
  • If your side effects worry you or if they last longer than a few days.

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

 Sign up for v-safe.

Get v-safe the new smartphone-based tool for personalized health check-ins, easy reporting of side effects, and a reminder to get your second dose!

 Find a safe place to keep your COVID-19 vaccination card.

Your vaccination card has information on when and where you received your vaccine as well as other helpful information related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Keep your card in a safe place! You may also visit the Wisconsin Immunization Registry for an electronic version. When taking pictures or posting selfies about getting your COVID-19 vaccine, do not post photos of your vaccination card online so your health information is protected.

 If you got a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, make a plan to get your second dose.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to provide full protection against COVID-19. If you got a vaccine that requires two doses, you will need to return to your vaccine location for the second dose. Even if you experience side effects from the first dose, it is important that you get your second dose for the best protection.

Before you leave the vaccination location, make sure you know when and where to come back for your second dose, and put a reminder in your calendar. 

Get text message reminders to get your second dose through VaxText. VaxText is a free text messaging platform from the CDC that provides weekly text reminders to patients of their second dose appointment for COVID-19 vaccine. Text ENROLL to 1-833-VaxText (829-8398).

If you miss your second vaccine appointment: 

You will need to get a second dose to get the best protection from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While it is important to get your second dose on-time, it is ok if you need to reschedule your appointment or cannot get it exactly on time. Let your vaccinator know you need to reschedule your appointment or will not be able to get it on time and schedule your second dose as soon as you can. 

Vaccine Second dose is due:  Can receive second dose up to: 
Pfizer 21 days after first dose* 42 days after first dose
Moderna 28 days after first dose*

42 days after first dose

*This is the earliest you can get the second dose. 

If you do not get your second dose within the recommended window (42 days after first dose), call your vaccinator and reschedule as soon as possible. While there is limited data on how well the vaccine works past 42 days after the first dose, you will not need to restart your two-dose vaccine series. This guidance might be updated as more information becomes available.

 Know when you will be fully vaccinated.

You are considered fully protected, or fully vaccinated, against COVID-19 if it has been two or more weeks since you got your second dose in a two-dose series (such as Pfizer or Moderna), or one dose of a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson).

Fully vaccinated individuals may follow specific quarantine and activity guidelines that differ from those who are not fully vaccinated.


 

Activity guidance for fully vaccinated individuals

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning it has been two weeks or longer since they have finished their vaccine series, can engage in some social situations. These include:

  • Visiting with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visiting with unvaccinated people from a single household who are all at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease, indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Refraining from quarantine and testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic. 

Continue to wear a mask when indoors with unvaccinated people from more than one household or when attending crowded, outdoor events. Fully vaccinated people should also continue wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing when visiting unvaccinated people who are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

 

Things to remember about COVID-19 vaccines

  • With the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, you will need two doses for the vaccine to be most effective and offer the best protection. With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will need only one dose. 

  • Mark your calendar so you know when to go back to get your second vaccine if you need one.

  • You may experience common side effects. This is a normal part of getting vaccinated.

 


Frequently asked questions

General

If I am fully vaccinated, do I need to quarantine after close contact with someone with COVID-19? 

If you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (received second dose in a two-dose series, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine) and were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you do not have to quarantine if you meet ALL of the following criteria:  

  • Your exposure to someone with COVID-19 happened at least two weeks after receiving the last dose of your vaccine series.
  • You have not had any symptoms of COVID-19 since your last close contact. 

Continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days after your last close contact. If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, isolate from others, contact your health care provider, and get tested. 

Visit our close contacts webpage to learn more.

Why doesn’t the new quarantine and activity guidance for fully vaccinated people apply to those who previously had COVID-19?

Medical experts are still learning how long immunity from COVID-19 lasts. Because of this, the new quarantine and activity guidance for fully vaccinated people does not apply to those who have previously had COVID-19. 

Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection or immunity, but it is not known whether every person who gets COVID-19 is protected, or how long this protection lasts.  COVID-19 vaccines, on the other hand, have been studied in large clinical trials and are shown to be highly effective and safe.  Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a safer and more reliable way to protect a person from infection. COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. 
 

I am concerned about possible side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. When should I call my doctor?

Contact a doctor if:

  • You experience redness or tenderness that increases after 24 hours.
  • Your side effects worry you or if they last longer than a few days.

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

I received a vaccination card when I got my COVID-19 vaccine. What is it for?

Your vaccination card has information on when and where you received your vaccine as well as other helpful information related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Be sure to keep your card in a safe place. You may also visit the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) for an electronic version. Avoid taking pictures/selfies of your vaccination card or posting photos of your card online to protect your health information.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. If you are vaccinated for COVID-19 you will not test positive on viral tests (PCR or antigen) – which are used to see if you have a current infection. This is true for the recently authorized and recommended vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), as well as the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States.

Another type of test is the antibody test, which looks for the presence of antibodies against the SARS-CoV2 virus in your blood. This test can indicate if you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results. Antibody testing is not recommended to assess immunity to COVID-19 after you have been vaccinated, or to assess the need for a COVID-19 vaccine in an unvaccinated person.

See our fact sheet for more information about COVID-19 test types.

What can families do safely if parents are vaccinated but their kids aren't? 

Vaccinated parents with unvaccinated children should still follow the recommended precautions when in public and only gather with other households who are fully vaccinated. Families can help keep unvaccinated kids safe by having them play outdoors when possible, ensuring those old enough to wear masks do so, and limiting the number of other kids they regularly interact with in person. More information is available from the CDC on how to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in children.

How long does the vaccine last? Is it like the flu shot that you have to get every year?

This is continuing to be studied. We do not yet know if annual booster doses will be needed.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19 vaccines?

  • Visit our COVID-19 weekly newsletter webpage to sign up for weekly updates and see past versions
  • For data about how COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, shipped, and given, visit our vaccine data dashboard. This dashboard is updated weekly on Tuesdays.

Getting your second dose

The following frequently asked questions apply to individuals who have received their first dose in a two-dose vaccine series (such as Pfizer or Moderna).

How will I know when to get my second dose?

Before you leave the vaccine location, make sure you know when and where to come back for your second dose, and put a reminder on your calendar. You can sign up for text message reminders about your second dose through VaxText by texting ENROLL to 1-833-Vaxtext (829-8398). VaxText is a free text messaging platform where you can opt in to receive text message reminders to get your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do I need a second dose?

For the current vaccines on the market, a few weeks after the second dose -- also called a “booster dose” – data from clinical trials show effectiveness of about 95%. The first dose is only about 50% effective after the first few weeks, leaving you vulnerable to getting sick.

How can I make sure I get the same vaccine product for both the first and second doses?

In Wisconsin, your vaccination clinic will only receive one type of vaccine product. Make sure you know when to come back to the vaccination clinic where you got your first dose so that you get the same product.

You should also keep your vaccination record in a safe place and bring it with you to your second dose appointment.

You can also check your vaccination record online using the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR).

I got my first dose but cannot get my second dose on time. What should I do?

While we do want people to get their second dose as close to on time as possible, it is okay if there is a longer interval between doses. Contact your vaccine provider to schedule another second dose appointment.

I live in one state but will be traveling or working in another state. How can I get my second dose of vaccine?

You should follow local vaccination policies wherever you are. If you get your first dose and then travel, be sure to bring your vaccination record with you. This will help your vaccine clinic know which product you will need for the second dose and when. When you set up your second dose appointment, be sure to ask if the vaccination clinic will be able to give you the same product that you got for your first dose.

I was diagnosed with COVID-19 after my initial dose. Should I still get the second dose?

As long as you have recovered from the acute illness and are no longer in isolation, you can get the second dose.

Last Revised: May 7, 2021