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What Vaccinated Boomers Need to Know
The generation that invented rock and roll is ready to boogie again thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination.
As one of the first group to be vaccinated, boomers could be seen happily sharing information about the best sites to book their shots and excitedly posting Facebook photos of the 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-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 faraway places, and making appointments in the hair salon danced in their heads.
Many feel like blogger Terry Cryer who wrote on her blog: “I opened my laptop and stared in disbelief at the screen. There, in bold letters, 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-Bs’ in my social circle in Illinois had yet managed to secure one of these ‘golden tickets’ – which is the most current media slang for a vaccine ‘win.’ I leaned forward, couldn’t remember ever scoring anything bigger than a dime-store pancake 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, encouraging each other, 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 fear-ridden since he tried to score tickets for “Hamilton. But we are not only losing our minds about getting the vaccine; we are also making big plans for our future.”
Being 60, I have recently joined the older boomers and am now fully vaccinated. However, after that initial rush of excitement and receiving my second vaccine, I was unsure of the next step.
Is it actually safe to “start the party” and “boogie down?”
The Good News
So, here’s the wonderful 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 the coronavirus – this is fantastic news indeed.
While I remained cautious through social distancing and masking in public, my blogging buddy and author Cat Michaels admits the vaccine was a comfort. “Getting the vaccine was THE most fantastic, amazing relief,” she said. “Literally, my neck and shoulder muscles finally relax, and I sleep better. It’s like my fairy godmother defeated the evil dragon that threatened my every move. I even went to a supermarket (gasp!) for the second time in 12 months and now run fast errands without fear or anxiety.”
The bad news
Well, here’s the bad news: While boomers are among the first in the country to be fully vaccinated and eager to join the world, experts warn that safety precautions still need to be taken.
After all, these vaccines are not 100 percent effective, much of the country is still unvaccinated, and more infectious 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 be social distancing or wearing masks. I am certainly among that group.
And while some are making travel plans, most boomers aren’t booking trips for 2021. “We’ve 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 clients who were going to go in 2020, then 2021 and are now looking to move on.” Some in the travel industry have noted that some of their older clients have opted for domestic vacations in 2021.
In other words, there is still some confusion about what is and isn’t safe after being fully vaccinated.
That’s why many boomers are taking a step back and asking, “Now what?”
What the experts say
According to the latest guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people can be 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):
* visit with other fully vaccinated people as well as unvaccinated people (including those precious grandchildren) who are at low risk of 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 are not among the 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 advice still applies. Vaccinated people should wear face masks in public, physically distance themselves, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
What does this mean for me?
Like other boomers, I felt tremendous 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 (masked, of course), which I had been putting off for over a year. A checkup with my doctor is next on the list.
Best of all, I was finally reunited with my youngest son and his wife, who was also fully vaccinated, and hugged my 3-year-old grandson 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 careful. I honestly don’t mind wearing a mask in public, physical distancing, washing my hands and avoiding crowds.
Perhaps boomer Helen Anders said it best in the article for Texas Monthly: “We’ll wear masks. But under them, rest assured, we’ll all be grinning.”
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