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What Fully Vaccinated Boomers Need to Know

The generation that invented rock and roll are ready to boogie down again thanks to being among the first to be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Being among the first group to be vaccinated, boomers could be seen gleefully sharing information on the best sites to book their shots and excitedly posting Facebook pics of getting jabbed.

Sick of being stuck at home, watching endless Netflix movies, stress eating, and searching for new hobbies, many boomers were ready for a late-in-life comeback.

Before vaccines were widely available, many who scored a vaccination appointment said it felt like winning the lottery as visions of hugging grandchildren, booking trips to far-away places, and making appointments at the hair salon were dancing in their heads.

Many feel like blogger Terry Cryer who wrote on her blog: “I opened up my laptop and stared at the screen in disbelief. There, in bold type, was a message from our local health department confirming that I had been approved to receive my first COVID vaccination the very next day. I knew that none of the other ‘1-B’s‘ in my Illinois social circle had yet succeeded in securing one of these ‘golden tickets’-which is the most current media slang for a vaccine ‘win.’ I leaned forward, unable to recall ever scoring anything bigger than a dime-store cake pan 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 swapping emails and texts with links to vaccine registration sites, urging one another on, and reporting which sites work and which don’t. Online, it’s mass delirium and competition. My friend John says he hasn’t been so angst-ridden since he was trying to score tickets to “Hamilton.” But we aren’t just losing our minds over getting the vaccine; we’re also making big plans for our future.”

Being 60, I recently joined the older boomers and am now fully vaccinated. However, after that first rush of excitement and receiving my second vaccine, I was unsure of the next step.

Is it actually safe to “get the party started” and “boogie down?”

The Good News

So, here’s the wonderful news: A couple of weeks after the second shot, boomers who were at the front of the line for vaccines are about 95 percent immune to COVID.

Since the older crowd is more susceptible to becoming seriously ill and dying from the coronavirus – this is indeed fabulous news.

While remaining cautious by social distancing and masking in public, my blogging buddy and author Cat Michaels admits getting the vaccine was a comfort. “Getting the vaccine was THE most fantastic, ginormous relief,” she said. “Literally, my neck and shoulder muscles finally relaxed, plus I’m sleeping better. Its like my fairy godmother vanquished the evil dragon, who had been threatening my every move. I even went into a grocery store (gasp!) for the second time in 12 months and now run 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 rejoin the world, experts warn that safety precautions must still be taken.

After all, these vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, much of the country has not been vaccinated yet, and more contagious and deadly variants are popping up with some uncertainty about the effectiveness of the vaccines against these new strains.

Thankfully, there’s growing evidence that people who are vaccinated don’t 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 at restaurants or visit bars where people are not likely to social distance or wear masks. I am certainly among that group.

And while some are making travel plans, most boomer are not booking trips for 2021. “We have seen an uptick in inquiries about 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 clients who were to go in 2020, then 2021 and now are looking further out.” Some in the travel industry have noted that some of their older clients have opted for domestic vacations in 2021.

In other words, there’s still some confusion about what is and isn’t safe after becoming fully vaccinated.

Which is why many boomers are taking a step back and asking: “What now?”

What the Experts Say

According to the latest guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people fully vaccinated (two weeks past their second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or two weeks past 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 for severe illness from COVID indoors in small groups without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask as long as they aren’t among crowds
  • resume domestic travel

In addition, fully vaccinated people are no longer required to self-quarantine or be tested after traveling or being exposed to COVID if asymptomatic.

On the other hand, public-health officials stress that even if a person has received both doses of the vaccine, basic health guidance still applies. Vaccinated people should wear face masks in public, physically distance, wash hands often, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

What Does This Mean to Me?

Like other boomers, I felt immense relief and am not as stressed when going to the grocery store or running errands. In addition, I was comfortable going to the dentist, optometrist, and hair salon (masked, of course), all of which I had put off for over a year. A check-up with my doctor is next on the list.

Best of all, I was finally reunited with my youngest son and his wife, who are also fully vaccinated, and hug my 3-year-old granddaughter after more than a year. Absolutely priceless!

My husband and I also purchased a camping trailer with plans for domestic travel.

But I still plan to be cautious. I honestly don’t mind wearing a mask in public places, physical distancing, washing my hands, and avoiding crowds.

It probably pays to be prudent. “I’m excited about meeting girlfriends, also vax’d and masked, for safe-distancing walks or coffee outdoors,” Michaels said.

Maybe boomer Helen Anders said it best in the article for Texas Monthly, “We’ll keep on wearing masks. But under them, rest assured, we’ll all be grinning.”

What Do You Think?

If you’ve been vaccinated, how has it changed your life? Are you comfortable going into restaurants and bars? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

juliegorges

Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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12 Responses

  1. We are getting out more because the weather here has allowed it now. We still have not had our shots yet and waiting to learn more about each one. I think it’s in May when the Johnson & Johnson will be available here?
    Shots or not, I’m thinking everyone will still have to practice the same rules, some places more than others.
    Be safe out there and thanks for your insightful article, Julie.

  2. I’m not a boomer but my age group is now eligible to get vaccinated in NY. I totally understand that golden ticket feel. I booked an appointment at the Javits Center, one of the most difficult places to score an appointment. I doubt I’ll be visiting overly crowded places any time soon. After social distancing and wearing masks for over a year, I’m anticipating some anxiety the first time I’m in a crowded place. Mostly, I looking forward to seeing my parents who I haven’t visited since Christmas 2019.

    • juliegorges says:

      So happy you got your appointment. Enjoy your upcoming visit with your parents. Seeing our family members is long overdue, right? That was one of the most painful parts of this pandemic for me.

  3. Carmela says:

    I’m not a boomer but due to my asthma I became eligible to get vaccinated in my area sooner. Even after my vaccination next week I won’t be visiting overly crowded places or Seeing friends until I know more about safety moving forward. Especially with the new variant highly contagious among kids.

    • juliegorges says:

      Yes, vaccinated parents have that additional worry for sure. Glad you were able to get your vaccination. With asthma, I bet this will give you some peace of mind!

  4. Cat Michaels says:

    Julie, I’m an early adopter, who was vac’d first in early January. It was a HUGE weight off my heart, and I admit to being teary-eyed from relief/ Especially since Hub had to wait until April for his jab, I haven’t been inside a restaurant in a year (we do curbside take home) and just shopped inside Target and Home Depot for the first time in 14 months! We also want to see our octogenarian parents, who live500 miles away, in June after all of us have been vax’d….first time seeing them since Christmas 2019. Light the end of the tunnel at last!

    btw…thanks for add my two cents in your article -:D

    • juliegorges says:

      Thanks so much for your input, Cat! I have now joined the fully vaccinated people and can SO relate to what you said in my blog and in your comments. I feel so relieved. Still being careful, but was reunited with my youngest son and his family after not seeing them for a year. A hug from my youngest granddaughter – priceless! (Working in the schools as interpreters for the deaf they qualified to get vaccinated and have received their second shots as well.) I would have got vaccinated just for that reason alone!

  5. An interesting read Julie. Great insight into what is happening in your part of the world. Vaccines are being slowly rolled out across Australia, but I think it will be some time yet before our international borders are open, although just last week, they announced an Australian-New Zealand bubble. Meaning we can travel safely between the two countries, but this can change at a moment’s notice.

    • juliegorges says:

      Yes, it’s been scary here in the U.S. I am now fully vaccinated and relate to the boomers in my blog who felt immense relief. Still careful, but not near as much worry!

  6. Julie says:

    So interesting to hear how vaccine roll out is going and reactions to it. Fingers crossed it happens fast for those who need it.

    • juliegorges says:

      We were jealous of New Zealand here in the U.S. where the virus spun out of control. Hopefully, with the vaccinations opening up to ages 16 and above here, the situation will improve.

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