Socializing After the Vaccine: How to Do It Safely

November 02, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Stacy Doumas, M.D.

It's normal to feel anxiety when venturing out in public, even if you are fully vaccinated — particularly as new virus variants and cases emerge.

“It’s no surprise that many people are anxious about returning to ‘normal’ after living through a yearlong global pandemic that is still ongoing,” says Stacey Doumas, M.D., a psychiatrist with Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. “Leaving what has been your safe zone will be uncomfortable, and that’s OK. However, if your anxiety is negatively impacting your quality of life, that’s when you should consider reaching out to a mental health professional.”

Even if the transition back into society may be nerve-wracking, you might be ready to get back to spending time with your friends and family. Here are some steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable as you slowly but safely get back to life.

Set Boundaries: It’s OK to invite only fully vaccinated people into your home or only want to spend time with friends and family who have received their vaccine. Don’t be afraid to let people know that while you’re happy to see them, you’re still uncomfortable giving hugs and handshakes. While you’re out and about, continue to keep a safe social distance from strangers and mask when needed.

Continue to Wear a Mask When Indoors: Remember to follow state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines about mask-wearing. Masks continue to be an effective way to protect yourself and others from airborne bacteria and infections.

Keep Numbers Smaller: Rather than plan large gatherings, look for opportunities to spend time outdoors if possible—or indoors with masks—with smaller groups of family and friends.

Be Patient with Yourself: Ease your way back into social situations. There’s no need to fill your calendar up with plans; you can take your time. Also, don’t force yourself to go out if you’re truly not ready yet. The past year has been traumatic for everyone. Give yourself some grace— your friends and family will understand.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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