By Julie Ruchniewicz
Parish Nurse
So, you have been fully vaccinated, what can you do or not do? The COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from severe illness and death. Based on the knowledge we have, people who have been fully vaccinated can begin to do some things they had put on hold during the pandemic. First, you must determine if you are deemed “fully vaccinated”.
You are fully vaccinated
  • 2 weeks after your second dose of a 2-dose series, such as Pfizer of Moderna vaccines.
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
If you’ve been fully vaccinated you can
  • Visit inside a home or private setting, without a mask, with other fully vaccinated people of any age.
  • Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness.
  • Travel domestically without a pre or post travel test.
  • Travel domestically without quarantining after travel.
  • Travel internationally without a pre-travel test, depending on destination.
  • Travel internationally without quarantining after travel, depending on where you were.
If you’ve been fully vaccinated you shouldn’t
  • Visit indoors, without a mask, with people at increased risk.
  • Attend large gatherings.
  • Forget to protect yourself and others by still wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart and avoiding large crowds at all times, including while traveling. We are still learning about the vaccine and how it will affect the spread of the virus.
You now have your long-awaited valuable badge of honor, your vaccination card. What do you do with it?
  • The vaccination card helps you to remember to go for your scheduled second vaccine, if required. It also serves as an extra record of your vaccination, so you should keep the card in a safe location. Currently you do not need it for travel, but it may be required for a new employer or if you ever need a booster.
  • Store your vaccination card like you would any other important document, less chance of theft or loss. You do not need to carry it with you daily, but may be necessary when traveling.
  • It may be helpful to take a picture of your card for reference. There are varying thoughts on laminating it, keeps it clean, but impossible to add written booster vaccine information to that card.
  • If you lose your card, simply contact the clinic or health service that administered your vaccine. They will be able to talk you through getting your information.
  • Your card is not your only proof of vaccination. There is an electronically saved record at the clinic or health service that provided your vaccine.
The United States is slowly easing restrictions as more and more people are becoming vaccinated. For many of us that is great news, back to normalcy. For others there is anxiety around leaving their house and going back out into society.
  • This fear of going out for fear of catching or spreading COVID-19 is being called, Cave Syndrome. This syndrome has been closely linked to Agoraphobia, an extreme fear of leaving home. This can have repercussions for kids whose parents don’t want to take them out anywhere either.
  • A survey put out by the American Psychological Association reports that 49% of adults are feeling uncomfortable about returning to in person connections once the pandemic ends.
  • People who experience anxiety or OCD may be especially vulnerable to these feelings of anxiety.
Transitioning back slowly may be healthier for many. Everyone has to do what they are comfortable with, at their own pace.
  • Don’t go it alone. Have someone who can help alleviate your fears. You can try new things every couple of days. As they go well, you can add on more activities. They can then give you feedback as you acclimate back to your normal.
  • If you want to go to a restaurant, where restrictions have been lifted, try going at a time when it’s a bit quieter.
  • Reach out to others in your neighborhood, you may find caring for others helps ease your anxiety.
If you find yourself in need of further care, please reach out to one of our Pastors, myself, or Stephen Ministry. Please contact a mental health professional at The Counseling Center, or elsewhere, if your case feels serious.
The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger
and stronger.        -Proverbs 24:5
Julie Ruchniewicz
Next book club meeting is Tuesday, May 11, from 1:30 pm-3 pm. We will be reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.
Quote from the book: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.”
Contact Julie Ruchniewicz at jruchniewicz@firstpresevanston.org for the meeting link.
Ten-month children’s ministry and youth ministry internship opportunities at First Pres. They are each 10-15 hours/week (late August – May, possibly renewable.) $5,000 stipend. For more details, visit here.

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