Should snowbirds get the COVID-19 vaccine in Seattle or elsewhere, and what are the CDC’s new quarantine rules?

Jessica Wong

Securing a COVID-19 vaccination appointment has proven to be a challenge for many of the older adults who are eligible to be inoculated for a multitude of reasons. The biggest chokepoint is the lack of vaccine supply, but some older people aren’t internet savvy and are having problems making appointments […]

Securing a COVID-19 vaccination appointment has proven to be a challenge for many of the older adults who are eligible to be inoculated for a multitude of reasons.

The biggest chokepoint is the lack of vaccine supply, but some older people aren’t internet savvy and are having problems making appointments online. Elders from communities of color are again falling victim to systemic issues that have led to limited access to the nation’s health system.

A question many readers currently eligible to be vaccinated are asking is where they should get their shot if they have a home in another state. We tackle that question in this week’s FAQ Friday, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new guidance for vaccinated people who have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Where should a person who splits time between Washington and another state be vaccinated?

Washingtonians fortunate enough to escape the gloom of winter for sunnier, warmer climes who currently qualify to be vaccinated need to think about which state they will be vaccinated in.

People should get vaccinated in the county they live, work and receive their health care, but if they winter elsewhere, fall into the current phase and are here now, they can be vaccinated in Washington, said Franji Mayes, a state Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson.

If someone is vaccinated in another state and is back in Washington for their second dose, they need to make sure they receive the same brand, either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech because the brands are not interchangeable, Mayes said.

“One state cannot always access the registry records from another, so for their second dose they would need to bring in their own copy of their medical record showing which vaccine they received the first time,” she said.

Do people who have been fully vaccinated need to quarantine if exposed to the coronavirus?

The CDC recently updated its quarantine guidelines for people exposed to the coronavirus who have received both doses of the two vaccines currently approved for emergency use in the United States.

The refreshed guidance says people don’t need to quarantine after exposure if they meet all three of these requirements:

  • They are at least two weeks removed from the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • They are within three months of the last dose.
  • They have not shown symptoms since being exposed.

A person who doesn’t meet all three of the CDC’s criteria needs to follow current guidance regarding quarantining after coronavirus exposure, which states that if you have been within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more you should quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with a coronavirus–positive person.

Others who don’t have to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus are those who have tested positive for the coronavirus during the past three months, recovered and haven’t developed new symptoms.

Even if fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine after coming in contact with a person positive with the coronavirus, they still need to continue the tried and true public health recommendations for blunting the spread of the virus, such as wearing face coverings, social distancing and regularly washing your hands.

Scientists are still learning much about the vaccines, which were created and tested on a severely compressed timeline, leaving unanswered questions such as whether a vaccinated person can still be infected and asymptomatic, giving them the ability to transmit the virus.

“After you get vaccinated, you’re protected and the vaccine itself prevents you from getting sick. We don’t exactly know yet whether or not it prevents spread,” said Dr. Angela Shen, a visiting research scientist at the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Because of that, you should still wear a mask, you should still socially distance you should be smart about, or logical about, kind of the behaviors and the choices.”

Do you have questions about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?

Ask in the form below and we’ll dig for answers. If you’re using a mobile device and can’t see the form on this page, ask your question here.

If you have specific medical questions, please contact your doctor.

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