Behavior post 2nd covid vaccine jab
January 13, 2021 9:06 AM   Subscribe

In a few days time I will get the second shot. I plan to wait another week+ for "full" effect (pfizer, if it makes a difference) I hope that I am not being a special snowflake about this, but I am getting conflicting information about my perceived risk of activities.

The only behavior I want to change is to go back to the gym again. I work at a University, and our gym is capped at 25% capacity (which it hardly ever is at - there are usually just a scant number of people in it at any time), masks and 6 feet+ at all times are mandatory. It's a large warehouse like space. I know that it is unknown how much a vaccinated individual may still be a vector for covid, but am how much risk am I additionally taking on by going to the gym? How much risk to society would it be? Are there any calculators that take vaccination into account when estimating risk? I know the bog standard covid answer on metafilter is to not take any risks, but how much of a risk is it?
posted by lizjohn to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
95% effective against getting covid. Low risk in getting it and prolly low risk in being a carrier. I would go to the gym in a heartbeat if I had the vax. Risk to society? Small risk, very small risk to your fellow gym users who have already made the decision to assume the risk of being in a gym with people who are not vaccinated at all.
posted by AugustWest at 9:19 AM on January 13 [8 favorites]

I don’t know anything about the vaccine, but one suggestion if you’re worried is to shorten your workout times, since some studies suggest time spent in a place are a big factor in transmission.
posted by vanitas at 9:42 AM on January 13

Epidemiologist here. You're asking questions that are easy to answer for populations, and so abstract as to be almost meaningless for individuals. In essence, your personal experience is just one of tens to hundreds of thousands of data points that are used as the evidence to make broad inferences about risk and causal chains of events. I know that's an unsatisfying answer, but it should be unsatisfying. The only thing we can say for certain now, regardless of previous infection-recovery history, or previous immunization status, is that avoiding the actions you're seeking to engage in, which are the established preventive measures, will result in some unknown increase in transmission of the virus at the population level.

I would not go to the vaccine if I'd had the vaccine, unless the ICU and hospital capacity issues in my area had been resolved to the satisfaction of the local authorities. You don't have to be able to quantify the risk to understand that the impact of the increased risk isn't on you, it's on a system that's been overburdened beyond the breaking point for almost a year. Please, we're exhausted. Recognize that the trends in the U.S., as almost everywhere, are transmission rates through the roof because people are collectively erring on the side of personal freedom rather than group health. Stay home.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:12 AM on January 13 [39 favorites]

It has not yet been determined if getting vaccinated prevents you from transmitting COVID. You still need to wear a mask, socially distance, etc, in case vaccinated individuals can spread COVID.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:22 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Recognize that the trends in the U.S., as almost everywhere, are transmission rates through the roof because people are collectively erring on the side of personal freedom rather than group health.

I want to underline this in two ways.

First, like you I'd be so damn tempted. But ... upon thinking about it (and I'm still continuing to think, and it's still continuing to evolve), there are 2 major factors that would keep me home:

1. Transmission. From what I'm reading, as a scientist, the signs are looking good that the vaccine does reduce actual virus replication, +PCR results, and thus transmission. But: as a responsible scientist, I would NOT simply say "yeah, you're ok" in public. The specific studies that will establish the effect haven't been done or published yet. So the public line HAS to be: we don't fully know yet. That's why you read "has not been determined" so often in the media. For good reason.

2. Public behavior. The above quote is just so, so true. We as a public have failed, because so very few people are willing to limit their own world on behalf of others. So I don't want to add one more body to the population count at the gym (because at this level of transmission, gyms should just plain not be open) or in a restaurant (ditto). No one knows you've been vaccinated, they just see crowds at a restaurant/gym/mall and think, must be safe! hey, I want to go do that! So I'll be strongly motivated to -not- be a part of that public behavior. And maybe if I stay home, just a little longer, that'll end up with just a little less transmission when someone else stayed home, too.

posted by Dashy at 11:40 AM on January 13 [14 favorites]

how much risk am I additionally taking on by going to the gym? How much risk to society would it be?

If your gym were hitting its 25% capacity, you taking a gym spot instead of someone who hadn't been vaccinated would likely be reducing the risk to others, not increasing it. But if your gym is barely full, the most likely answer is that your presence is a net neutral to others. We won't know for sure until we know whether vaccinated people can still transmit the disease, but the reasonable speculation is that even if they can, they probably won't transmit it as effectively due to lower viral load, etc.

I am not an immunologist, IANYI, I also work at a university (in person) and treat going to our small, capped at 20 people but usually fewer folks there gym in Colorado 2x/week as the single non-work expense in our household's current COVID risk budget.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:13 PM on January 13

I agree that we don't know the answer to this question, we can't know the answer. I am vaccinated (second dose next week- feeling extremely fortunate and grateful!) and I will not be going to the gym for the above reason. Having said that, I personally will expel little to no energy worrying about whether or not vaccinated people are going to the gym as available evidence suggests this is not going to be a significant driver of infections in the community. This is not an answer about your personal risk, it's a personal (probably idiosyncratic) perspective about community health in the context of weak guidance from centralized public health regulators.
posted by latkes at 12:21 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

I would like to be the minority opinion and say that you pose a very low risk by going to the gym while vaccinated. Scientists have determined that the most likely case is that transmission with vaccine is extremely lowered (asymptomatic covid already 80% reduced transmission, and asymptomatic covid is basically vaccined covid but less so).

Using Pima County and, your chances of catching covid was 0.3% before, and switching to "outdoors" is a 1/20 risk and a good standin for being vaccinated, it becomes 0.02% now. That means in 2,500 visits, you have a 50-50 chance of catching covid.

Weigh those odds against feeling better, a stronger immune system (from the gym), and getting out of the house.

I'd take those odds.
posted by bbqturtle at 12:57 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I'd also like to add: please don't interpret my remarks above as an absolute command; I don't want to contribute to that dynamic here on AskMe.

My thoughts are only beginning to evolve as I've just become eligible for shot #1. You asked about risk to society, so I tried to address that question.

Soon, as in, soon we'll all figure this out and be free to move about the country without dilemma.
posted by Dashy at 1:06 PM on January 13

The reason you get a range of responses is because we actually *don't* know yet for the population answer. We think the vaccine is likely to reduce transmission significantly, but we don't know and we still would want to vaccinate people even if all it does is protect them personally. So we, collectively, don't have to know the effects on transmission - we can proceed with vaccination and then wait and see when case counts start to fall to decide whether to lift restrictions. Which doesn't help you today, except to say there isn't an answer to your question yet.
posted by Lady Li at 4:02 PM on January 13

Probably others have answered this better than I have with actual numbers but I will say since others have expressed their opinion, that I am not worried about you going to the gym after you get your second shot. I will likely do the same.
posted by aetg at 6:17 PM on January 13

I got the second dose last week and I've been behaving as I have since last February. Mask in public, minimize outings, etc.

I so hear you. I am so fucking sick of taking care of covid+ patients. I am sick of my face hurting and being hot all day and being scared of getting the virus and transmitting it to my toddler. Im sick of having to accept a respiratory rate of 40 as fine because it's better than 60 and there are no bipaps and I can just give more morphine. I am DONE.

Just wait a little longer. I mean aren't you tired?
posted by pintapicasso at 6:57 PM on January 13 [7 favorites]

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