However, the agency warned unvaccinated people that they are at greater risk – and should continue to wear face masks – if they go to the movies indoors, dine in a restaurant or bar, take high-intensity exercise classes indoors, or sing in a restaurant choir indoors . Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, noted that the risk of spreading the virus indoors increases almost 20 times.


May 13, 2021 at 7:22 AM ET

And even for vaccinated people, he stated, “Until there are no more vaccinated people and we continue with more than 50,000 cases a day, wearing masks indoors provides additional protection.”

There are good reasons to be careful. More than half of the population, including children, are still not immunized. It is not known whether immunized people can become infected with the virus and have no symptoms and then accidentally spread it to other vulnerable people. Not everyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so for logistical or health reasons, and vaccines may not fully protect people with immunodeficiency.

Even if approved vaccines produce a stronger immune response than natural infections, we still don’t know how long their protection will last. The Excelsior Pass I was given in New York State confirms my vaccination status but will expire in mid-August, six months after my second dose, when I may need a booster to maintain my immunity.

Speaking of which, no one should stop getting that second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. While taking a few weeks to get the second is probably not all that important, the immune response is relatively weak after a dose and could leave people vulnerable, especially to the more virulent variants that are now floating around.

Two doses are 90 percent effective at preventing infection, and that protection is likely to last much longer. You should be scheduled for the second dose when you sign up for the first dose or when you receive it.

Some people hesitate to take the second dose because they have heard that the side effects can be uncomfortable. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, the vaccine’s side effects are brief and nowhere near as severe or persistent as the disease it protects you from. Even after recovering from a mild case of COVID-19, annoying imprints such as disorientation and chronic fatigue can be left behind.