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What Vaccinated Boomers Need to Know
The generation that invented rock ‘n’ roll is ready to boogie down again thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination.
Being among the first group to be vaccinated, boomers were seen cheerfully sharing information about the best sites to book their shots and excitedly posting Facebook pictures of getting jabbed.
Sick of being stuck at home, watching endless Netflix movies, stress eating, and looking for new hobbies, many boomers were ready for a late-in-life comeback.
Before vaccines were widely available, many who won a vaccination appointment said it felt like winning the lottery, as visions of hugging grandchildren, booking trips to faraway places and appointments at the hair salon danced in their heads.
Many feel like blogger Terry Cryer, who wrote on her blog: “I opened my laptop and stared at the screen in disbelief. There, in bold, was a message from our local health department confirming that I had been approved to receive my first. COVID vaccination the next day . I knew that none of the other ‘1-B’s’ in my Illinois social circle had yet managed to secure one of these ‘golden tickets’ – which is the most current media slang for vaccine ‘victory.’ I leaned forward, no being able to remember that I had ever won anything bigger than a dime pie loaf at a county fair, and read the message twice more.”
Boomer Ruth Pennebaker wrote in an article for Texas Monthly: “Since Texans 65 and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, my friends and I have been feverishly exchanging emails and texts with links to vaccine registration sites, urging each other, and to report which sites work and which don’t. Online, it’s mass delirium and competition. My friend John says he hasn’t been so anxious since he tried to win tickets to “Hamilton”. But we’re not just losing our minds about getting the vaccine; we are also making big plans for our future.”
Being 60, I just joined the older boomers and am now fully vaccinated. However, after that first excitement and getting my second vaccine, I wasn’t sure about the next step.
Is it actually safe to “get the party started” and “boogie down?”
The Good News
So, here’s the amazing news: a few weeks after the second shot, boomers who were at the front of the line for vaccines are about 95 percent immune to COVID.
Because the older crowd is more susceptible to getting seriously ill and dying from coronavirus – this is fabulous news indeed.
Staying cautious through social distancing and masking in public, my blogging buddy and author Cat Michaels admits that getting the vaccine was a comfort. “Getting the vaccine was THE most amazing, huge relief,” she said. “Literally, my neck and shoulder muscles have finally relaxed, plus I’m sleeping better. It’s like my fairy godmother defeated the evil dragon that threatened my every move. I even went to the grocery store (gasp!) for the second time in 12 months and now do quick errands without fear or anxiety.”
The Bad News
Now, here’s the bad news: While boomers are among the first in the country to be fully vaccinated and eager to re-enter the world, experts warn that safety precautions still need to be taken.
After all, these vaccines are not 100% effective, much of the country has not yet been vaccinated, and more contagious and deadly variants are emerging with some uncertainty about the effectiveness of the vaccines against these new strains.
Fortunately, there is growing evidence that people who are vaccinated do not spread the virus, but scientists are still trying to understand how long vaccine protection lasts.
So, while some boomers have a devil-may-care attitude, others feel more cautious. They are still reluctant to eat in restaurants or visit bars where people are unlikely to social distance or wear masks. I am definitely among that group.
And while some are making travel plans, most boomers aren’t booking trips for 2021. “We’ve seen an increase in inquiries for 2022 and 2023,” said Gary Pollard, CTC, president of Ambassador Tours in an interview for TravelPulse.com. “Most of the confirmed bookings are from the customers who were supposed to go in 2020, then in 2021 and are now looking further out.” Some in the travel industry have noticed that some of their older customers have opted for domestic holidays in 2021.
In other words, there is still some confusion about what is and isn’t safe after getting fully vaccinated.
That’s why many boomers take a step back and ask, “Now what?”
What the Experts Say
According to the latest guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are fully vaccinated (two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can:
* Visit with other fully vaccinated people as well as unvaccinated people (including those precious grandchildren) who are at low risk of severe COVID illness indoors in small groups without wearing masks or physical distancing.
* participate in outdoor activities and entertainment without a mask as long as they are not among crowds
* resume domestic travel
In addition, fully vaccinated people no longer need to self-quarantine or be tested after travel or exposure to COVID, if asymptomatic.
On the other hand, public health officials emphasize that even if a person has received both doses of the vaccine, a basic blood count is still valid. Vaccinated people should wear face masks in public, physically distance themselves, wash their hands frequently and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
What does this mean for me?
Like other boomers, I felt a huge sense of relief and am not as stressed when I go to the grocery store or run errands. In addition, I felt comfortable going to the dentist, optometrist, and hair salon (disguised, of course), from which I had been procrastinating for over a year. A checkup with my doctor is next on the list.
Best of all, I finally reunited with my youngest son and his wife, who are also fully vaccinated, and hug my 3-year-old granddaughter after over a year. Absolutely priceless!
My husband and I also bought a camper trailer with plans for a domestic trip.
But I still plan to be careful. I honestly don’t mind wearing a mask in public places, physical distancing, washing my hands and avoiding crowds.
Perhaps boomer Helen Anders said it best in the article for Texas Monthly, “We still wear masks. But underneath them, rest assured, we’ll all be grinning.”
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