Millions of Brazilian adults are expected to receive the first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 in the coming weeks. Thus, a transition phase will begin, in which the preventive care we learned more than a year ago will coexist with new small freedoms and a slightly greater sense of security.
But, after all, what changes after the first and second (or only) dose of the vaccine?
For doctors and scientists, this moment should be celebrated with care, mainly because in Brazil the numbers of new cases and deaths are still high, which indicates that the virus circulates freely among the population.
See below for answers to some of the main questions about what life should be like after the vaccine.
What changes in protective measures after the first dose?
Nothing should change, and all protective measures must still be maintained.
Can I go back to going to bars, restaurants and the gym after receiving the first dose? And after receiving both?
It is safer to wait 15 days after the second injection (or 15 days after the single dose in the case of Janssen’s vaccine). The first dose of the vaccine may provide some protection about two weeks after application, but it is still less immunity than that which appears after full vaccination.
With the arrival of new variants, such as delta, the scenario gets a little more complicated. Recent studies show that this variant is more transmissible than the previous ones and is able to partially resist the antibodies generated by the vaccines. In the case of vaccines administered in two doses, a first dose was practically innocuous against delta, and protection was only formed 15 days after the second dose.
Thus, experts suggest caution when going to places such as bars, restaurants and gyms and ask people to prefer outdoor or well-ventilated places, following preventive measures until most of the population is vaccinated and Covid-19 numbers in Brazil are controlled.
After receiving the first dose, can I meet other people who have received one or two doses?
Vaccines used in Brazil can provide partial protection after about 15 days after the first injection, but the arrival of new variants makes it easier to acquire Covid-19 even when vaccinated, because these strains are more resistant to antibodies generated by the vaccine. .
Thus, it is necessary to follow all prevention measures until vaccination coverage in the country reaches at least 70% of the population, which should bring down the transmission of the virus.
I am vaccinated with two doses or a single dose; can I meet unvaccinated people?
Yes, but it is still better to avoid unnecessary encounters, says Viviane Alves, microbiologist and professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (ICB/UFMG). If the meeting is held, there must be the use of masks, physical distance and good ventilation of the environment; give preference to open, outdoor places such as parks and squares.
“If the place is closed, give preference to PFF2 or N95 type masks”, he says. The measures apply to everyone at the meeting. The biggest risk in this case is that the vaccinated person can carry the virus even without symptoms of infection. people not vaccinated at the meeting are vulnerable.
I am vaccinated with two doses or a single dose; can I meet people who are also fully immunized?
Yes, but masks, distance and good ventilation cannot be forgotten. Alves explains that the arrival of new variants of Sars-CoV-2, such as delta, has increased the chances of new infections appearing in those who have already had the disease or who have already been vaccinated. Vaccines are very potent to prevent the most severe cases and deaths, but infections and contagions can still happen.
I’m not vaccinated, can I meet vaccinated people?
Only if it’s unavoidable. People who have not yet been immunized are at much higher risk of being infected with the coronavirus. If the encounter is to take place, all protective measures must be followed.
What changes in protective measures after the second dose?
Nothing should change until vaccination coverage is above 70% (some estimates indicate that the number should be greater than 90%, depending on the vaccines used), and the numbers show a drastic drop in transmissions.
When are we going to stop wearing masks?
When most of the population is fully immunized and data show a decrease in virus transmission, according to Alves. In addition, it is necessary to wait for the studies that will indicate whether booster doses will be necessary. Depending on the numbers of contagion of the disease, the masks may, in the future, be adopted again on time.
Can I drink alcohol before or right after the vaccine?
There is no contraindication for drinking alcohol before or after receiving any Covid-19 immunizing agent. But experts warn that excessive alcohol consumption impairs the functioning of the immune system. Also, alcohol can bring symptoms that will be confused with the expected effects of the vaccine. The infectious disease specialist Ivan França, from the Oswaldo Cruz German Hospital, says it is prudent to wait at least 24 hours before drinking alcohol.
What are the expected effects of vaccines? How can I get around them?
Fever, headaches and body aches and pain at the injection site are the expected symptoms, which can last up to about three days. Antipyretics and pain relievers can be used to relieve symptoms, but not to prevent them.
Does having or not a reaction to the vaccine have any relationship with my immunization process?
No. Each body will react differently to the immunizing agent, and most people will have no reaction at all, says França. The infectologist also says that reactions after the second dose are usually less frequent.
How do I notify you of an adverse effect that may have been caused by the vaccine? Expected, milder effects usually disappear within three days. If any more serious symptoms appear in the days after the vaccination, it is necessary to look for the vaccination post to notify and receive guidance.
When will I be protected after getting the vaccine?
Studies indicate that protection is established in the body after at least 15 days after complete immunization, that is, about two weeks after the second injection, in the case of vaccines applied in two doses, or a single dose, in the case of this type of immunizing.
This data will never be accurate, since each organism reacts in a different way to the vaccine – some may be faster while others are slower to form this protection. Remember that no vaccine guarantees complete immunity against the virus; therefore, the more people who are vaccinated and the lesser the circulation of Sars-CoV-2, the safer everyone will be.
Can I transmit the virus, have severe Covid or die after getting the vaccine?
Yes. Vaccines greatly reduce the chances of a person becoming infected with the virus or having Covid with symptoms, but they don’t eliminate all the chances that something like that will happen. Deaths are extremely rare among those vaccinated, but they can also happen.
Recent data show that some immunizers are capable of reducing the transmission of the virus, that is, if you are vaccinated and have contact with the virus at some point, it is unlikely that you will pass the pathogen to another person. But data are still scarce and do not concern all available immunizers.
It is also possible for a vaccinated person to become infected with the virus before an immune response has formed, which happens about 15 days after complete vaccination.
If I miss the deadline for the second dose, will I lose the effect of the vaccine?
No. The infectologist Ivan França, from the Hospital Alemão Oswaldo Cruz, explains that the period between doses was defined in studies carried out with the vaccines and that the intervals indicate a better effect on the body. “But there is no great damage to the immunity of those who missed the deadline, as long as they take the second dose as soon as possible”, he says.