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Q: Can I visit my grandchildren after I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

We know that everyone is eager to get back to normal, and especially, after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Many kupuna were the first to be vaccinated and now families are wondering if it’s safe to gather again or give grandma a hug. There are some things to consider before jumping back into normal family life again.

First, the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe and more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. But they’re not 100% effective, which means some people will still get sick, even after getting the vaccine. The good news is, if someone does become ill with COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine the effects should be less severe as the vaccine does provide protection against critical symptoms of COVID.

We are, however, still learning about the vaccine, such as whether the vaccine can prevent someone from transmitting the virus. In other words, someone who has been vaccinated might be protected from getting sick themselves, but it’s possible they could still be contagious and pass it on to others even without symptoms. That’s why the CDC recommends people still wear a mask and practice social distancing even after getting vaccinated.

However, we know there are also difficulties with prolonged isolation from family and friends. Social isolation can contribute to loneliness and depression in seniors. Also, grandparents can provide critical childcare for working parents, and kids also benefit from spending time with their family members.

The bottom line is, while vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 for the people who get them, they don’t completely eliminate it. The most important thing is for families to talk about the pros and cons and decide together how much risk they’re willing to take so that everyone is comfortable.

Michael J. Shea , MD

Critical care medicine

Maui Memorial Medical Center
221 Mahalani Street
Wailuku, HI 96793