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Life After the COVID-19 Vaccine: What We Can Expect

nurse giving older woman a covid vaccination

As of May 3, 2021, over 100 million Americans, about 31% of the adult population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is a massive feat in science, technology, and logistics and has brought a collective sigh of relief to everyone who has been impacted and distant from family and friends for the past year. 

The vaccine has also raised many questions about what the future will look like: 

  • When is it safe to travel?
  • If I’m vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?
  • Is it safe to visit family members who have not been vaccinated?
  • How long is this vaccine effective? 
  • Will we have to get an annual booster?

While health experts and citizens are trying to navigate these questions together, a few answers are emerging that can give us a glimpse into what moving forward will look like after the vaccine has been fully distributed. 

Franklin Park® Senior Living has remained dedicated to the health and safety of our residents and staff during these difficult times. Our San Antonio senior living communities are looking forward to the future after the vaccine, and we’re sharing some information (and some predictions) about what to expect. 

Immediately After the Vaccine 

Currently, three COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson. While you may not get to choose which vaccine you receive (or received), it’s essential to know that the FDA approves all three in being effective against coronavirus.

After receiving the first or second dose of your vaccine, it’s normal to experience some side effects. For the most part, side effects are minor and only last a few days, and are simply signs that your body is building protection and immunity against the virus. Here are some side effects you might experience from the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • Pain or soreness at the injection site 
  • Headache or muscle pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Fever or chills 
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the injected arm 
  • Nausea or vomiting 

To keep side effects mild, drink plenty of fluids on the day of your vaccine. If you do experience pain or swelling, take ibuprofen or apply a cool compress to the injection site. 

Days to Weeks After the Vaccine 

Over the next few weeks and months, more Americans will continue to get fully vaccinated, bringing us closer to herd immunity—which occurs when “a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely (Mayo Clinic).” 

As we wait to get there, expect things to begin resembling “normal” while remaining on the cautious side. Being fully vaccinated can give you significant peace of mind for yourself but only makes you immune—not invincible. For this reason, it’s still important to wear a mask indoors and keep your distance from large crowds. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals can also begin to gather indoors with other family and friends who have been vaccinated. 

Franklin Park® Senior Living communities were lucky enough to be some of the first in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As our residents reach immunity, we’ve slowly begun opening dining services, visitations, and other activities. 

Weeks to Months After the Vaccine

After you, your family, and everyone you know have been vaccinated, it can be tempting to return to how your life was pre-COVID. But don’t throw away all your masks just yet. As we’ve seen, the coronavirus is, even after being studied for over a year, unfamiliar and unpredictable. 

Beyond that, the COVID-19 vaccines are so new that even experts don’t know how long they will protect people and how often they will be needed. Epidemiologist Andrew Noymer at the University of California warns that even after herd immunity is reached, outbreaks can still happen, similar to the flu. Because of this, it can be helpful to remain cautious and safe and avoid high-risk activities, like international travel or indoor concerts, for a while. 

Overall, it can be a good idea to slowly reintroduce yourself to society and activities bit by bit. Start with a short family visit, then work your way up to outdoor seating at a restaurant or a farmers market. From there, you and your family can decide for yourselves what you’re comfortable with. 

A Hopeful Future 

The COVID-19 vaccine has been a beacon of light at the end of a dark and devastating time. As we finally round the corner, remember that everyone is trying to navigate this new climate and the future together.   

Franklin Park® Senior Living, with senior living communities throughout the San Antonio, Texas, area, is dedicated to putting residents, staff, and families first—now and in the future. We will continue to provide vaccines, updated information, and hope to our residents and their families as we move forward. For more information, visit our website