Two weeks after her second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 23, Laura Orzehoski felt more comfortable around campus and traveling to Center City for a day.
“It’s not as anxiety-rising because I know I’m vaccinated,” said Orzehoski, a freshman music education jazz major. “When I wasn’t vaccinated, I was a little hesitant to go downtown sometimes if I knew it was going to be busy.”
As more Temple University students become fully vaccinated, they are a step closer to a life of normalcy. Some students feel more comfortable in small groups and around other fully vaccinated family members, while others still feel nervous about being more social.
People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after they received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated can safely gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask and can visit unvaccinated people from a single household who are at a low risk for COVID-19 without wearing a mask, according to the CDC.
Partially vaccinated people should wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others and avoid crowds, according to the CDC.
Abby Rudolph, an epidemiology professor, said people should be aware of the rate of COVID-19 cases in the state, city or neighborhood they live in because even if vaccinated, people’s risk depends on their location.
“If you live in an area that has a high prevalence or an uptick in cases and hospitalizations, then that would be a signal that you want to be more cautious than perhaps somebody that’s living in an area where there is a much lower baseline prevalence,” she said.
People should continue to wear masks and social distance in public spaces, like grocery stores, and should also refrain from having large gatherings of fully vaccinated people, Rudolph added.
As more people become vaccinated, guidelines may continue to change like they have been the past year, she said.
“Hopefully, we can get the infection rates down and more people vaccinated and then the guidelines will be a lot more conducive to socialization,” Rudolph added.
Gillian Shoff, a senior communication studies major, received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Feb. 13 and the second dose on March 13 by Rite Aid in York, Pennsylvania.
Shoff was a direct care worker at the disability service provider Life’s New Beginning in York, Pennsylvania, at the time, taking care of clients with disabilities and assisting them with daily activities, she said. Although she’s been vaccinated, Shoff plans to only socialize with a few of her close contacts.
“Nothing has really changed, I’m still not going out to clubs or anything like that,” Shoff said. “I just have been socializing with my close friend, my mom and coworkers.”
Philadelphia is currently in Phase 1C of its vaccine distribution plan, which includes essential workers who are at a lower risk of exposure to COVID-19, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Thomas Smith, a sophomore film and media arts major, received the Pfizer vaccine in March at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Arch Street near 11th.
Smith works for Cinescope, a video production company, where he shoots and edits videos. At the end of April, he is traveling with eight others from the company to create promotional content for a software company, he said.
“Getting the vaccine definitely makes me feel a lot more comfortable, especially since I’m traveling for work,” Smith said.
More than 612,000 Philadelphians have been partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and more than 398,000 have been fully vaccinated as of April 12, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
All adults in Philadelphia 16 years and older will be eligible to be vaccinated on April 19, The Temple News reported.
Adults ages 20 to 29 had the highest COVID-19 incidence rate in Summer 2020, accounting for more than 20 percent of COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC.
Sraavya Pinjala, a freshman biology major, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Feb. 8 and her second dose on March 1 at Temple University Hospital. She volunteers for the hospital’s At Your Service Volunteer Intern Program, answering call bells when nurses are busy and visiting patients’ rooms to ensure they are comfortable, she said.
Pinjala still hasn’t visited any family or friends she didn’t see before getting vaccinated, and plans to continue to wear a mask when she sees friends and stay six feet apart from strangers, she said.
“Even though I am vaccinated, I don’t want to be the carrier that brings it to someone who isn’t,” Pinjala added. “A lot of my friends are also vaccinated, but when we go out in public spaces, we still keep our mask on and are still safe just because we aren’t entirely sure who has been vaccinated.”
The COVID-19 vaccine prevents a vaccinated person from contracting the virus but may not prevent transmission between individuals, according to the CDC. Vaccinated individuals should continue following COVID-19 guidelines, like wearing a mask and social distancing, when in public places, according to the CDC.
Kieran Francke, a grocery store worker and volunteer firefighter for the West Grove Fire Company, received his second shot on March 24.
After waiting for his two-week period to end, Francke, a sophomore journalism and political science major, visited his grandmother, who is also fully vaccinated, indoors without a mask on. Before getting vaccinated, he visited his grandmother once a month outdoors while wearing a mask and staying socially distanced.
Francke hopes individuals who are eligible get vaccinated so restrictions can be lessened in the future, he said.
“The faster you get vaccinated, the faster we won’t have to wear a mask along with the rest of the world,” Francke said.