I've had two shots (Moderna, in March) thought I was bulletproof. Nope.
July 22, 2021 5:13 PM   Subscribe

My younger brother also both shots, Moderna. Out of nowhere he got nailed, a pretty nasty case, too -- lost sense of smell, lots of aching in his joints, fever, blah blah blah. So. Obviously, masks any time I'm indoors around other people, and will shop in hours when the stores have more personal room. What else?

Up until the text from my brother I didn't think I still had any skin in the game. TBH I've been amused to know that only stubborn fools were open to it.

I'm no longer amused.

Will a booster shot help? I've found conflicting views, as I've been playing Internet MD. (YANMD, just wondering what you're doing) If yes, should it be Moderna again? Ought I to try to force my doctors hand on this booster shot piece? He's a good doc but pretty conservative.

Do I need to scale back to last year? I was so damned isolated but doing the correct thing, not only for me but for everyone. I'm sick at the thought of that, I live alone not married no kids, my social lifeline is friendships, telephone/text/Zoom is cute but nothing ~ nothing ~ beats human contact. This last month or two has been great, everything opening up, myself included.

I trust you people. What are you doing?
posted by dancestoblue to Health & Fitness (58 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Answer to most COVID questions: We don't know yet.

Best guess based on available evidence: congratulations! You already have great protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death. To further reduce risk of mild to moderate infection: reduce time in indoor settings with others. Avoid any large group indoor gatherings. Wear a mask when indoors.

There is not yet sufficient evidence to make a confident claim about vaccine boosters.
posted by latkes at 5:17 PM on July 22, 2021 [22 favorites]

I personally spend lots of time socializing outdoors and maskless since vaccination. I have yet to see corroborated evidence for any meaningful risk of outdoor, maskless gathering - especially for vaccinated people.
posted by latkes at 5:19 PM on July 22, 2021 [9 favorites]

Masks indoors. Life as usual pre pandemic otherwise.
posted by sandmanwv at 5:21 PM on July 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

If I had gotten Moderna (I got J&J) I would be living pretty normally now, though it also matters if you're in an area where vaccination rates are generally high or not. Breakthrough cases happen, but it's really rare that someone fully vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines would get seriously ill.
posted by pinochiette at 5:23 PM on July 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Masks indoors around the unvaccinated or strangers, avoiding crowds (indoors or out), no close contact with strangers. No masks indoors with people I KNOW are vaccinated and taking reasonable precautions.
posted by arrmatie at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2021 [9 favorites]

Dancestoblue, I'm so sorry to hear to your brother was so unwell. But I'd argue that the vaccine did its job. He felt really, really crappy, but he wasn't hospitalized, he wasn't intubated and he didn't die.

I'm not going back to last year now... down the road I guess it'll depend on variants. I'm certainly masking indoors in public, social distancing outdoors in public, but socializing freely indoors and out with vaccinated friends and family. And hugging. Oh my God, all the hugs.
posted by kate4914 at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2021 [34 favorites]

So yeah. The thing is, no vaccine is 100% effective. The Covid vaccines, however, are really, really good. And gently, if your brother wasn't hospitalized, he didn't have a particularly nasty case. The vaccine did it's job for him! He didn't get hospitalized! Would it have been better if he hadn't got sick in the first place? Of course. But this Delta variant is evil.

Okay. So now you know that your vaccine didn't make you bulletproof. At best, and it's a really good best, it's provided you with very, very good protection at getting severe Covid. So you have to decide now how to live again. But you kind of don't, because the vaccine stats give us great guidance. When you're hanging out with your vaccinated friends/family, you don't need to mask! That's great! When you're indoors and/or don't know the vaccination status of people you're with, mask up.

Hang in there, it's tough to get a wake-up call like this but you'll get through it. I hope your brother feels better soon, and you really can have confidence in your vaccine. Just remember that it's not 100%. They never are.
posted by cooker girl at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2021 [32 favorites]

Boosters aren't a thing yet and you're not likely to be able to get one.

Mask indoors with strangers, yes. If you don't have vulnerable people in your life (children, immunocompromised people, lots of people who aren't stubborn fools are still at risk) you probably don't need to dial back to where you were last year! But if you're worried you may want to take one step back from wherever you are now. Maybe you go back to outside dining and fitness classes instead of bars and gyms, or TV night with one friend instead of four, or delivery instead of shopping, or whatever makes sense for you. I'd suggest looking for ways to cut down risk in the things you care less about so you can keep doing whatever the most important things for your wellbeing are.
posted by Stacey at 5:29 PM on July 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

There's some good info in this Slate article. Bottom line: the vaccines are very good but were never going to make you bulletproof, breakthrough cases are comparatively mild, and "mild" does not mean "negligible." (Still sounds like they're generally quite a bit milder than early-pandemic "mild" cases which stopped short of intubation but knocked you out for weeks, but they can be much worse than a cold.) I haven't been doing much inside stuff anyway and have been masking in stores (which is typical in my area); I don't plan to stop seeing people outside or in cases where I know everyone's vax status. But I'm also prepared to get a nasty flu if something goes wrong, and I find it helpful to have that kind of realistic model of a worst-case scenario.
posted by babelfish at 5:34 PM on July 22, 2021 [9 favorites]

My personal policy since getting vaccinated (Pfizer) has been: masks on inside unless I'm with people I know (and know to be vaccinated.) Outside I don't wear masks unless I expect to be in very close quarters.

Being maskless indoors with vaccinated, reasonably careful friends adds value to my life; these are people I enjoy some level of intimacy with, and being maskless adds to the feeling of intimacy and comfort. Being maskless in a store among strangers doesn't add value to my life (and I have found comfortable, protective masks) so I keep masking in situations like that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I've been thinking about this a lot! I'm masking up inside public places, like grocery stores. I did gather with some friends unmasked and inside last month, but I'm not sure I'd do that casually again, especially while it's summer and it's easy to be outside most of the time in my area. I don't think I want to go anywhere where it's super crowded inside.

This article from Slate this week was quite helpful in framing my thoughts on this:
The New COVID Panic: What vaccinated people should really know about their risk from the delta variant.

In a nutshell: a "mild" case of Covid can still feel pretty wretched! "Mild" basically means you don't go to the hospital, but you might be totally knocked out for a few days. And we are probably undercounting break-through cases.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:46 PM on July 22, 2021 [8 favorites]

You don't have to cut yourself off from human contact. You didn't have to last year either, for that matter. But do it outside.

I socialize indoors with small groups of other vaccinated people, though I won't blame you if you don't. Think of this way: for a vaccinated person like your brother to get a symptomatic case of COVID, an unlikely thing has to happen. For a vaccinated person to catch symptomatic COVID from another vaccinated person, two unlikely things have to happen.
posted by escabeche at 6:11 PM on July 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Age, general health and location should figure into any lifestyle decisions going forward. I'm in my early 70s and in very good health. I got my second dose of Moderna in February. I'm currently living in a town with high vaccination rates and low Covid rates. However, since I spend time with 4 unvaccinated grandchildren under the age of 12, I've continued to maintain precautions. I wear a mask when I shop for groceries. I pretty much limit my indoor maskless socializing to family. I'm lucky I retired a few weeks before Covid hit so I don't have to deal with working.

I hope your brother is recovering well.
posted by mareli at 6:14 PM on July 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm masking in stores (mostly, but not exclusively, as a courtesy) and at the gym. I really haven't gotten back to eating in restaurants (only done it a handful of times), but I think it's partially inertia, partially it's-a-lot-of-effort-and-expense-for-a-compromised-experience rather than out-and-out unwillingness to take the risk. I've been to the movies quite often. Manhattan has a 70% vaccination rate, my neighborhood is even higher. I saw a vaccinated friend this evening and would've been happy to hug her, but she initiated elbow bumps, so I followed suit.

Side note: I think the advice to plan for a realistic worst-case scenario like a few days' bout of the flu (the real flu) is good. Don't let TP run out, have some easy-to-make foods around, if you have responsibilities such that being out of it for a few days would be very hard to manage, be a little more careful. I just made plans to go to Canada next month and I'm glumly considering whether it's worth chasing basis points.
posted by praemunire at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Everyone I've known with "mild" covid didn't really work for at least one workweek, and really could have used at least twice the amount of days off they took. All of those people had at least lung capacity issues and unignorable fatigue for months, some of them had other health challenges get exacerbated besides. You cannot assume that if you have a little covid that it will be negligible, not affect your ability to work (if you need to do so to stay alive generally), and/or not be contagious to anyone else.

And the numbers and PR have been doing some funny things that make me think two weeks from now we're going to have a different tune than "vaccinated people aren't being hospitalized".

My partner and I are back to not going out except for me (I am slightly less at risk than my partner) getting groceries. We went wild in our newly-vaxed May and June: going out camping by ourselves once, renting a vacation house with vaccinated staying-home friends, going inside restaurants four times, seeing other vaccinated friends outdoors twice, getting haircuts. We assumed variants would have us locked back down before July 4 so we got an extra week or two to be hassled by our landlord to come in the house and do some things, but we are closing up shop again.

We do not think it is safe or advisable for us in our situation to even get a little teeny-tiny bit of covid, as we both have risk factors and one of us is a freelancer. We have seen how people are acting out there, even in surprisingly-compliant Los Angeles (going to Arizona for that vacation house was a reeeeeeal eye-opener), and out there appears to be full of people who have been dared to get as much covid as they can, so we're going to stay in here where we are sure they are not.

From my very risk-averse perspective, I think avoiding strangers and crowds is a good idea right now. That leaves lots of options for getting together with vaccinated friends, though, if that's what you need and they are in agreement.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:33 PM on July 22, 2021 [19 favorites]

What I do is strongly influenced by where I am. I watch case numbers daily.

I'm in PA, where cases are up a small bit but are still low. In my locality, we're into the mid 60s for overall vaccinations. I wear a mask in generally-populated areas like the hardware store.

I work in a life sciences department in a university setting. The U had mandated vaccination for students. My own lab is fully vaccinated, and I'm pretty confident that verrrry close to everyone in the building is as well. I feel safe going unmasked in my department, for now at least. I plan to still teach masked but in person in fall.

This would all be radically different if I lived in Missouri. Your chance of getting it is directly proportional to your exposure.
posted by Dashy at 6:50 PM on July 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My friend, a doctor with a degree from a prestigious US medical school, who did his hospitalist residency at a top-five US medical school, and is now an attending hospitalist treating covid patients at a third prestigious US medical institution, has said the following about this, to me:

- There's no evidence to suggest that a booster shot is warranted. (I asked him specifically about getting an mRNA booster for my wife's J&J vaccination.). But he also said that, while there are theoretically some disadvantages, it's unlikely to hurt. (I am not a doctor; this is not medical advice; ask your doctor if you're considering this.)
- Delta is causing case rates far above what he expected for his highly-vaccinated metro area.
- A friend of his from residency, who is also an attending hospitalist at yet another prestigious US medical institution, attended a party this weekend with a small number of fully-vaccinated doctors (~10). 4 of them caught covid from the event.

The Delta variant is no joke, and my takeaway is that I'm going to continue as I was before (I have two children under the vaccination age and I'm not taking any chances). That is to say: no restaurants; no indoor events; seeing fully-vaccinated friends whom we trust outside only. It sucks; I'm very unhappy to have to continue this nonsense; but it's the responsible thing to do for my family. If I were you: unmarried, no kids, no vulnerable people in my life (presumably), I would probably be acting a little more cavalierly, but I certainly wouldn't be going out to indoor bars or clubs or doing anything risky with large groups of people.
posted by kdar at 7:06 PM on July 22, 2021 [16 favorites]

Latest data from Israel shows 16-45% efficacy against infection and symptomatic delta covid, in people who have been fully vaccinated with Pfizer for six months.

The good news is, it’s still shows 85% efficacy against hospitalization and severe illness. So yeah, not quite the silver bullet it’s been presented as.
posted by Jobst at 7:40 PM on July 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My tune is starting to change, and what changed it wasn't the abstract knowledge of the Delta variant's spread (or the time when I got my last 'derna jab) but the smoke haze from the west coast fires hitting us today and for the next couple of days. I'd been mostly maskless on errands and in big stores -- no restaurants, venues, bars, inside visits with people for now -- but tasting the air outdoors got me wearing a mask for the day and thinking of how things are transmitted, and I'm going to be more cautious going forward.
posted by holgate at 7:49 PM on July 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

Family of 4, luckily all over vaccination age in the US (one by only 2 weeks, but we'll take it). We still strongly prefer outdoor activities, but we're back to "normal", pending new information. That means generally unmasked indoors, among populations that we believe to be more likely vaccinated than not, but which may be mostly strangers. Nothing is riskless, but that's the tradeoff we've decided on. The vaccines seem really, really good. They aren't perfect, but at this point the situation isn't likely to get any better. If it gets worse again over the fall and winter we'll go back to lockdown and isolation, but for us now the benefit of 'normalcy' - especially for our kids - is worth the risk.
posted by true at 7:52 PM on July 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

I had gone mostly to normal but the Delta variant is causing me to pull back again. Not to the isolated extent I did last year, but the only people I will see indoors now are vaccinated friends, in small groups. Delta is more vaccine evasive and more transmissible, including by vaccinated people. While vaccination still protects us fairly well against severe disease, likelihood of long Covid among the vaccinated is still unknown and I have ENOUGH health issues already.

A vaccinated coparent of my daughter's stepsister tested positive today, and he's not a big risk taker and we are not in one of the higher risk areas. Numbers are spiking everywhere and I'm going the "better safe than sorry" route.
posted by metasarah at 8:00 PM on July 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fully vaccinated. Socializing only outside with masks if sitting close, or without masks if sitting further away. Masks indoors all the time - but rarely indoors with other people outside my family. Delivery of everything (no going into a store or restaurant). It sucks, but death is worse.
posted by Toddles at 8:04 PM on July 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We've opened back up WAY too early due to basically, a mass case of peer pressure. Except it's peer pressure that's killing people. Granted, some, maybe most, of them right now are the easy marks - those who choose to be unvaccinated AND careless.

But that's not going to be the situation in a few months. Or next year. It boils down to, politics in the U.S. - and much less preparedness worldwide than we thought we had - have screwed us. Now we're playing chicken with a virus that has a decent chance of mutating before we can catch up at any given step. Of course, I'm pretty sure that particular battle was lost 17 or 18 months ago, long before most people realized we were even in a war.

Every single case - symptomatic or not - increases the chance to mutate. Just because it doesn't make someone seriously ill this time around says nothing about next time. Add that to what we DO know - that even in those that aren't symptomatic, it can cause damage that we don't notice until later - and that in the symptomatic, each time we get sick, it has the potential to be additive in damage, not a reset - and we should be being one heck of a lot more careful than we are.

I'm still fighting leftover symptoms, 8 months out. I'm going to continue to do my damnedest not to get it again. I'm only 44, but I've got chronic health issues that already make the flu a miserable, risky, issue - the last thing I need is more Covid on top of it.

Maybe I'd be ok one more time, or even two. But we've already ensured this is going to stick around long-term, we have no idea what the effects will be 5 or 10 or 20 years from now... and I have zero interest in catching even a mild case every year.

I also suspect we'll eventually see massive lawsuits and settlements related to Covid, and it's not going to have anything to do with GETTING the vaccine - it'll be due to the states and the federal government not doing a better job enforcing safety protocols. And school districts that don't enforce mask and distance compliance, or keep virtual schools in place... and perhaps even workplaces. In fact, I'd bet the current people that are anti-healthcare-for-everyone are going to be rolling in their graves, because that's what it will take settlement-wise. It'll be this generation's version of agent orange - but applicable to everyone, not just vets and some of their kids.

This mess is not going to go down well in the history books.
posted by stormyteal at 8:26 PM on July 22, 2021 [21 favorites]

I haven't seen or worn a mask in weeks. I'm back to normal life and sticking with it for now. (In a liberal artsy small town in the mountain west). It's pretty clear that the vaccinations prevent against severe illness (hospitalization) with the variants to date. I will take the risk of getting what sounds like a bad cold/flu (as you describe your brothers symptoms) in exchange for living life. I also believe that getting exposed to these variants might provide some immunity to future potentially worse variants.
posted by amaire at 8:36 PM on July 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have kids so I'm still trying fairly hard not to get it until they can be vaccinated. I do curbside pickup because it's actually free if you order above $X, and it saves us time. But I'll go in masked for something I forgot or go to a store that doesn't do curbside occasionally. We have a vaccinated babysitter come over and don't mask around her. Our kids play with neighbors with very half-assed masking, and we mask around those parents after an interlude of not masking with them. But we'll also go in one another's houses whereas that used to be off limits. So our sources of risk are the babysitter, two neighborhood families, and my occasional "forgot one thing." Our biggest source of risk is indoor swimming lessons -- tons of people going in and out, bad ventilation. We looked at the stats on kids drowning vs kids and COVID and decided the choice there was obvious. The truth is, COVID isn't a morality play -- you can be careful and get unlucky or vice versa. But I find masks comfortable and don't miss most of what we're not doing.
posted by slidell at 8:44 PM on July 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I basically live normally and don't mask indoors while other people don't mask indoors, and only mask up if I'm in an "essential" situation like the grocery store, pharmacy, public transit, or some other place where I don't know for sure whether others are immunocompromised or uncomfortable around unmasked people. Bars, restaurants, friends houses etc I consider environments where everyone has to have already accepted the risk (and in my city, are likely to already be vaccinated) so if everyone is saying fuck it then I say fuck it.

Sounds like about 99% of the people ending up in the hospital are unvaccinated and for the rest of us, worst case scenario is a nasty ass cold/flu which does indeed happen and I'd definitely catch that really bad and end up bed ridden for a few days every other year or so in the past, but I certainly didn't adjust my lifestyle around not getting sick ie I'm gonna skip this dinner party or that concert or cancel Thanksgiving because the flu was going around. Maybe if I was in my 70s.

But yeah, covid year sucked and I'm not going back to that unless I start seeing big headlines about a new variant putting vaccinated people in the hospital in big numbers. Then believe me I'm cooping back up at home and staying put and back to Zoom calls with friends and freezing my ass off eating outdoors in the fall, but time will tell I guess and fingers crossed it won't come to that!
posted by windbox at 8:47 PM on July 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Vaccinated with Pfizer since April.

The riskiest thing I did since then was to move apartments in May, before Delta was a thing. Now that it is, I'm masking indoors, and outdoors when I'm around strangers. I don't eat out in restaurants, and limiting my trips back to the essentials. I also cancelled a vacation trip I was planning to Canada.

I could live my life as if it was December 2019 again, but I can't - I had a bout of what was either Influenza or COVID, back in March 2020. It was 'mild' in that I didn't need the hospital - but it took a few months for my lungs to recover, and to this day? I have Long Covid Chronic Fatigue symptoms. My GP diagnosed me, and referred me to the UW's Long Covid Clinic in Seattle.

If this was 'mild' COVID?! Then I don't want to experience it again. No, I'll stay happily inside with my soups and my teas and my work and my chess.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:34 PM on July 22, 2021 [11 favorites]

I don't know what the hell to do any more. I really don't. I'm so sick of agoraphobia and fear of literally every other human being and leaving my apartment and I don't want to go back to that level of insanity, and I have two Pfizer shots, and I LITERALLY CONSTANTLY read the news stories and so far it sounds 88% okay? I think I'm pretty much with windbox: I'm not locking myself up again for presumably the rest of my life until I really feel like I have to. I feel like sortakinda, nobody really knows any more? But right now I'm not paralyzed with fear and thinking I'm going to get it, so that isn't driving me.

Hell if I know. Until everything starts locking down again, I'm going to mostly live life. Wear masks inside, depending on situation. Be outside a lot in presumably mixed company. I'm going to go to an outdoor theater show tomorrow night (they request masks and vax card). Perform at a theater where they require vaccinations in a few weeks. We'll see if that continues or is shut down.

An article in the Atlantic (limits clicks) : "Determining what constitutes an area with “a lot” of cases remains tricky and subjective. Caitlin Rivers, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, puts the number at 10 cases per 100,000 people. " I looked up where I live and right now we've got our daily case rate at 1.2 per 100,000 people and are at either 51% for the entire county and 60% in my town for vaccination rate. Our health officer is "strongly encouraging" everyone to mask indoors again regardless of status, but otherwise doesn't sound....that.... bad? They said 0.07% have come down with it after vaccination. I just don't know if I should lose my mind over that or not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:48 PM on July 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

My roommate picked it up hanging out indoors maskless with a vaxxed friend last Thursday. I tested yesterday just on the basis of exposure to him, and it came in positive.

His experience has been extremely mild. The folks I know who picked up real deal covid had a very not fun time; he, by comparison, has been able to be up and at em like normal for the most part. We'll see how I do.

This has been quite confusing, because frankly, the way this was so easily transmitted doesn't track with the public health advice I've seen. I know I must be infectious just from the chain that brought it to me, but CDC guidance says I shouldn't worry if I'm not symptomatic, which is nuts.

Still, I am 0% anxious for my own health. Just don't want to be a transmission vector. And I want to see my girlfriend. And I'm feeling defensive about having caught it.
posted by billjings at 11:33 PM on July 22, 2021 [11 favorites]

Oh, and I'm longtime fully vaxxed Moderna.
posted by billjings at 11:33 PM on July 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure yet what the right thing to do is, and I really appreciate the references and links to public health guidance and reporting that folks have added in the comments.

One thing I'm trying to keep in mind, personally, is the rhetoric that was so common early in the pandemic about the virus not just being about our own individual health, or our families' health, but the health of people around the world. I'm starting to hear many (vaccinated) people explain choices by saying that the risk of their getting mild covid is worth not having to be locked down anymore. Honestly, I've been talking like this too, falling back on my own personal risk levels and forgetting how conscious I used to be, a year ago, of accidentally starting or perpetuating a transmission chain that could end up seriously harming someone down the line.

I don't say this to be alarmist, to suggest that the right thing to do is to take zero risks or lock ourselves in our houses in fear, or to minimize the real toll that lockdown and isolation have taken on so many of us. I do hope no one takes this comment as fearmongering, shaming, or denial of the very real benefit that vaccines bring to the risks of community transmission. All I'm saying is that I want to fight my own tendency to frame risks solely in terms of what it means for *me*, rather than what it means for vulnerable people around the world. (Even if one does not feel sympathetic towards unvaccinated people - which most of the world's population still is, through no fault of their own - it still strikes me as really bad for all of us that the virus continues to spread, mutate, and cause suffering.)

Anyway, with that said, I've been looking to local public health guidance but leaning slightly more cautious - where I live, this means continuing to meet in small indoor gatherings with vaccinated friends, going into businesses and taking public transportation with a mask on, hanging out outdoors unmasked, and (before the delta news had begun ramping up) flying domestically to see my family.
posted by chaiyai at 12:08 AM on July 23, 2021 [11 favorites]

Best answer: From MIT Medical: Delta’s here; I’m vaccinated; how cautious should I be?

Summary: breakthrough cases are a thing with all vaccines, though the severity in vaccinated people is usually mild. As mentioned above, "mild" encompasses a wide range of non-hospital experiences, including those that produce Long Covid.

The even bigger issue for vaccinated people is transmissibility. Vaccinated people CAN transmit the Delta variant, as opposed to what we've been told about other variants. And it is much easier to transmit. The article mentions a case where a person was infected by walking past an infected person in a mall.

I know we are all very tired of this bullshit, but it looks like the best thing to do for ourselves and others is to once again mask up and dial back the social interactions.
posted by Anonymous at 5:02 AM on July 23, 2021

I’m fully vaxxed, and I’m treating COVID like a nasty flu bug. I go back to teaching in the classroom in 3 weeks. Just like influenza, we are all going to be exposed to COVID at some point in the next few years. Just like influenza, if you’re vaxxed you can still get sick, but it won’t be as severe as if you weren’t vaxxed, and it is extremely unlikely you will have serious complications or hospitalization unless you have an underlying health conditions. You can take steps to mitigate risk but I think it’s unreasonable to think you can avoid exposure unless you’re willing to live on lockdown (which many people just cannot do.)
posted by gnutron at 5:16 AM on July 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I almost hesitate to write this, but Indonesia here. Delta is currently ripping our country to shreds. So much of your answer will lie in your environment. I'm fully vaxxed, but hiding in my home. Delta here seems to be about 60% more transmissible and 50% more likely to put you in the hospital. The big difference now seems to be that once you leave isolation, you are either vaccinated or you are sick. Where with the first go-round COVID could skip people. I was first ring contact twice in the first wave, and never was infected.

My neighbor was fully vaxxed, and travelled to Surabaya for work. He came back positive (mildly) and infected his vaxxed wife, two unvaxxed children, and two domestic staff. Everyone is recovering, but one child was very sick.

I really wish you would not get a booster, because honestly the problem will not go away until the whole world is vaccinated. Vaccination is the only way out of this.

To answer your question-- if the majority of your environment is vaccinated, I would be out, but masked inside. I would eat in outdoor areas of restaurants. If you are in a majority unvaccinated area, I would stay home. Delta is a beast. Nobody wants to hear it, but at least from the developing world, it sure looks that way.
posted by frumiousb at 5:30 AM on July 23, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: Just like influenza, if you’re vaxxed you can still get sick, but it won’t be as severe as if you weren’t vaxxed, and it is extremely unlikely you will have serious complications or hospitalization unless you have an underlying health conditions.

Covid is worse than influenza though. You're not dealing with the effects of influenza eight months down the line. And while underlying conditions affect death rates, I don't see any research indicating that they predict severity of "mild" cases or likelihood of Long Covid.

I really wish you would not get a booster, because honestly the problem will not go away until the whole world is vaccinated.

I don't know OP's location, but if they're in the USA vaccine shortage is not a thing here. If they were to somehow convince someone to give them a third dose it is not taking that dose from anybody because at this point public health officials are begging the unvaccinated that are left to get vaccinated and it is just not happening. It is pretty gross.
posted by Anonymous at 5:47 AM on July 23, 2021

I don't know OP's location, but if they're in the USA vaccine shortage is not a thing here. If they were to somehow convince someone to give them a third dose it is not taking that dose from anybody because at this point public health officials are begging the unvaccinated that are left to get vaccinated and it is just not happening. It is pretty gross.

They could however send them to the rest of the world who don't even have a first dose. The fact that the developed world is hoarding them is what I think is pretty gross.
posted by frumiousb at 5:57 AM on July 23, 2021 [12 favorites]

But I may be a bit emotional about this, watching so many people die around me, and US sends 2 million doses to a country with 279 million people.
posted by frumiousb at 5:58 AM on July 23, 2021 [14 favorites]

You won't be able to get a booster yet, but it may become a thing for older or higher-risk individuals in the next 6 months.

Personally, I'm wearing masks indoors (never really stopped, for that matter) but otherwise continuing at a fairly-cautious normal. We see other vaccinated friends indoors in groups of 1-4 or so. We don't really eat indoors at restaurants but we've been to uncrowded bars at off-hours a couple of times. I have a domestic trip planned around Labor Day that will mostly involve outdoor activities which I'm currently still planning to go on armed with N95s. If we had unvaccinated kids at home, or lived in an area where officially reported infection rates are higher, our risk calculus would be slightly more cautious. I do feel a responsibility towards my larger community to not be a vector, but at the same time my household was the most cautious of any of our social group pre-vaccine (we basically didn't see anyone for 15 months) and I do feel like I, as an individual, should mentally be working towards treating this as an endemic danger that I'm coexisting with. Again, if I regularly came into contact with unvaccinated people, my thinking would be different.
posted by superfluousm at 6:25 AM on July 23, 2021

For matters of safety, it's best to keep things dead simple so you 1) don't spend a lot of time being anxious and 2) have less opportunity to talk yourself into doing something unsafe.

For my part I've decided that if cases go up, I take more precautions; if cases go down, I slowly relax them.

Cases have recently started going up again in my state despite the vaccinations.

I'm putting my mask back on.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:27 AM on July 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

I will add also that I think it's advisable to be very cautious about Twitter accounts breathlessly reporting efficacy data on these variants. There have been several times where a scary number came out of Israel or the UK and then it ended up later getting walked back as other, more vetted evidence emerged, but of course you can't exactly un-ring that bell.
posted by superfluousm at 6:29 AM on July 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

They could however send them to the rest of the world who don't even have a first dose. The fact that the developed world is hoarding them is what I think is pretty gross.

I absolutely agree, but my point is if OP doesn't get a third shot it doesn't mean that shot gets sent overseas. That shot just gets tossed. OP's hypothetical booster choice will not solve the larger policy problem.
posted by Anonymous at 7:01 AM on July 23, 2021

You're not dealing with the effects of influenza eight months down the line.

That is actually not correct. Flu variants can cause varying levels of damage to the heart, lungs, and nerves that can lead to long-term or even permanent effects. Many people who were flu survivors in the 1918 pandemic suffered lifelong weakness and persistent illness afterward, and many died in the following years from the damage to their hearts.

I trust you people. What are you doing?

Caveats: I'm on the young side, healthy/not at high risk, double-vaxxed since May, live alone. My area has a high vaccination rate and low case rate (I think there were 6 cases in my zip code last week.)

Honestly I am back to normal except for masking in stores and on transit. I have eaten indoors a few times, though I generally try to eat outdoors. (And even then sometimes there's a freak thunderstorm that floods the patio and welp, you're going inside.) I gather with friends, but all of my friends are vaxxed. Again, we try for outside, weather permitting, for most things, but no longer cancel automatically/panic if the weather does Not permit, and things move indoors.

I've done some domestic travel and have some on the docket, though I'm avoiding the current hot spots and will continue to monitor. I won't hesitate to cancel if numbers where I'm headed start looking bad.

Like other people though I prioritize things that are important to me (restaurants, friends, gym, travel) and try not to "waste" my risk points on shit I don't really care about (manicures, movies, shopping other than the grocery store).
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:45 AM on July 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

In the last few weeks I have been splitting my time between a liberal and highly-vaccinated metro area and very conservative rural areas with low vaccination rates. Frankly, I couldn't see any differences in how people were acting -- virtually no one is wearing a mask (other than staff at restaurants), both indoor and outdoor spaces at restaurants and bars were full, etc. I think at this point the pandemic would have to return to a dire level before most people would go along with severe restrictions again.

The point being, most of the answers above represent a far more conservative approach than most people are taking as well as beyond what almost all health authorities are currently advising. That doesn't make the advice wrong, but I think it is important to contextualize it appropriately.

Currently I am masking where it is socially important (i.e., to make someone feel comfortable) or required (like at a pharmacy). I'm avoiding crowded bars/restaurants, but otherwise living life more or less normally. If the context changes (like a new variant that the vaccines don't protect against) or if the consensus advice of health authorities shifts, I'll adapt, but making big changes now seems premature.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:49 AM on July 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

(Oh, also in my caveats: I am still working from home, and my company has a generous sick leave policy, so if I were to be down and out for a few days or a week, or even just needing to isolate with an asymptomatic case, it would not be devastating.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:49 AM on July 23, 2021

I do wonder if there's some selection bias in the responses here. It seems possible that people are quicker to respond with "here's how I'm more cautious than average" than "here's how I'm less cautious than average."

I'm with Dip Flash. Currently I am masking where it is socially important (i.e., to make someone feel comfortable) or required (like at a pharmacy). I'm avoiding crowded bars/restaurants, but otherwise living life more or less normally.
posted by diogenes at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I got Covid early on, wasn't hospitalized, but spent 8 weeks sick, spent 2 of those weeks with each breath hurting to take. The long term effects have included permanent shortness of breath, I have done nothing more stenuous this morning than make a coffee and work on a computer and I huff and puff like I've just finished a workout. I had used a puffer maybe 3 times in my life before I got Covid, I'm now on 3 types of inhaled drugs and a nebulizer. I got vaccinated the second I could and I tell you all this so you understand why I am making the choices I am.

I am still avoiding large groups of people and in self imposed lockdown, masks when indoors or in crowds and only hang out with a few other vaccinated people (the ones I trust to actually be vaccinated) that are also in a self lockdown like me. I take that risk because mental health is important too. I don't go in supermarkets, I don't go into stores (thank god for pick up and home delivery), I have eaten out twice since I had covid, both times outside. Because until research confirms or denies if I can get get Covid again I'm scared I'm not taking silly chances it fucking sucked, and I'm scared I'll end up in hospital on a ventilator this time and not come home.
posted by wwax at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

I do wonder if there's some selection bias in the responses here. It seems possible that people are quicker to respond with "here's how I'm more cautious than average" than "here's how I'm less cautious than average."

Vaccinated. Still know no-one personally who has died from covid, and know only about a dozen people who have even gotten sick from it enough to realize they have it. Only one went to the hospital -is fine. None of my co-workers have mentioned it (I work with hundreds of people around the world). I don't think isolation the last year was good for my kids so I've been taking them to do fun things. None of us have gotten sick. No masks since June. I never stopped actually going to stores, because I hate take out, online shopping, and drive-thrus. No-one in my poor, unvaccinated, and mostly obstinate and generally older population in my home town died either or was hospitalized. None of the medical professionals I know are particularly concerned about it anymore, as in they go on vacations again. All the dedicated covid wards shut down a long time ago.

Maybe we've all been lucky? Who knows.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:16 AM on July 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also statistically IMO, declaring 10 sick cases in 100,000 population as being 'high' is borderline ridiculous. There are going to be more millionaires in 100,000 than that, generally around 220.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:23 AM on July 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

(Can someone kindly clarify whether double-vaxxed means "got both shots of a two-shot vaccine" rather than "got two separate vaccines"? I was going to just Memail someone who used that phrase but maybe other people have the same question.)
posted by Glinn at 8:26 AM on July 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

In my experience, it always means "got both shots of a two-shot vaccine." Getting two separate vaccines would make you a massive outlier.
posted by diogenes at 8:32 AM on July 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

As others have said, the jury is still out on booster shots. Besides, I think the focus (at least in my opinion) needs to be on getting non-US populations vaccinated before we consider boosters. I have a number of colleagues outside the US and it's frusturating seeing people turn down shots here when they could be used elsewhere.

In the last few weeks I have been splitting my time between a liberal and highly-vaccinated metro area and very conservative rural areas with low vaccination rates. Frankly, I couldn't see any differences in how people were acting -- virtually no one is wearing a mask (other than staff at restaurants), both indoor and outdoor spaces at restaurants and bars were full, etc. I think at this point the pandemic would have to return to a dire level before most people would go along with severe restrictions again.

I agree, I live in a similarly liberal/well-vaxxed area and I would say it's down to ~50% of people masked at the grocery store, and it seems to drop lower every time I go. I feel like people here are a bit more accepting of restrictions - when I recently visited family in central Illinois NOBODY outside the airport was masked and I got a couple of dirty looks wearing a mask into a truck stop, fun! - but I still don't see people here going back into lockdown, absent some truly catastrophic change much worse than anything we've seen in recent months.

I don't plan to stop wearing masks in indoor public spaces, but have started occasionally socializing indoors, maskless with my small social group (all of whom are vaccinated). Have only eaten indoors in a restaurant once - it felt amazing to do so for the first time in over a year but I'm not comfortable yet doing it on a regular basis.
posted by photo guy at 8:49 AM on July 23, 2021

Best answer: For what it's worth, I'm in the same camp as most of the cautious people here. My wife's known several people who got COVID and were totally fine, aside from mild symptoms. I, on the other hand.. well, my stepbrother got it pre-vax and spent two weeks in the hospital. A friend from high school got it right after his first Pfizer dose, and ended up hospitalized twice -- once for the initial infection, and once for long-COVID (the second time was actually worse -- ICU, and he's still doing followups, might need additional hospitalization for lung surgery!) A guy I know who's about 10 years older than me got it, spent a week in the hospital, and had long-COVID cognitive symptoms for close to eight months. An elderly friend of my father's was intubated for a week and is still in rehab six months later. I really only know one person who had it and had no long-term negative effects, and he's a semi-competitive weightlifter! We are.. not.

So, yeah. We're in Camp Mostly Isolation, here. We saw my in-laws and moved apartments while cases were low in late May/early June, but we're back to pickup/delivery shopping and no close contact with people who we don't know to be similarly paranoid. My wife's birthday is coming up, and we'll probably have a mostly-masked, mostly-distanced outdoor back yard party at a friend's house, with six total people, all of whom are vaccinated and pretty paranoid.
posted by Alterscape at 8:57 AM on July 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: For me it's pretty simple: We're all going to get it eventually, but the longer you can wait to get it, the better off you'll be, as we learn more about how to treat the disease. To me this is like putting off a big purchase so that the money can continue to earn compound interest for as long as possible. If I can buy a better future outcome by toughing it out a little now, I'm happy to do that.

I'm in a majority-unvaxxed state and a bit older. I've been seriously ill before and it changes your perspective to the point that I completely disregard the views of anyone who has never experienced it. Fully vaccinated people can get it and can transmit it, and even a "mild" case can change your life. I love breathing so I'm going to kick this can down the road for as long as possible.

So, to answer the question, we did a lot of visiting over the summer and ate outdoors at restaurants a couple of times, but once the students come back (we live in a college town), we are going to close it back down. For us this will mean curbside pickup and limiting socializing to the people we know who are fully vaccinated and similarly cautious, and then only socializing with 1-2 others at a time, preferably outdoors.
posted by HotToddy at 8:58 AM on July 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

The point being, most of the answers above represent a far more conservative approach than most people are taking as well as beyond what almost all health authorities are currently advising.

*In the US.* I'm in Germany, where at this stage we have more or less caught up with the US in terms of people vaccinated, but still have restrictions, and a mask mandate in almost all indoor situations, and any particularly crowded outdoor ones. (Vaccinated people are not exempt from wearing masks). The exact restrictions differ by state, and by the number of cases. It's normally measured here in terms of new cases per week per 100,000 In my state, there are additional restrictions at 35, 50 and 100 (e.g. only FFP2/N95 masks in public transport at levels over 100, or restrictions in the number of people allowed to meet). Some of the restrictions are not as strict if you are vaccinated - you don't "count" when there are limits on the number of people, for example.

It may be because we had a much slower vaccine roll-out, but there is less of a "pandemic is over" feeling here. I'm happy I (finally) got my 2nd dose this week, but while I might be prepared to do a bit more than before, I'm definitely not going to be back to life as normal for quite a while.
posted by scorbet at 8:59 AM on July 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

@glinn: I'm in Canada, where many people have had two doses of different vaccines (almost always either Moderna or AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer), and everyone uses double vaxxed to describe this situation.

To answer the question, my family masks when we go into any public place with randos whose vaccination status is unknown. We visit vaccinated friends outside without masks (and do other outdoor activities unmasked though we would avoid crowds, e.g. an outdoor concert). In theory we are okay doing small indoor gatherings with vaxxed friends but haven't yet; we have now visited immediate family indoors unmasked. We are still avoiding crowds, unnecessary activities, gyms, and restaurants although we shop for groceries and so on in-person.

We live in a Canadian province with a low vaccination rate and lots of Covid deniers/anti-vaxxers (SIGH), and we have a kid at home who is too young to be vaxxed. The Delta variant is here. I have no idea where this will all go and I'm so tired of restricting our lives to this extent, but... I really do not want Covid personally, really do not want to pass it on to someone else, and really want to keep our unvaxxed kid safe.
posted by DTMFA at 1:13 PM on July 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Living in a county that’s 67% fully vaccinated, watching the numbers tick up regardless. We’re still low in an absolute sense, but the 7-day average of new cases has doubled in a week.

I have an unvaccinated, higher-risk under-12 at home. I don’t worry about myself very much at all, but I worry a ton about bringing Covid home to her. That’s the rate limiter on all my activity. I’m still socializing exclusively outside, albeit generally unmasked there except in crowds. I still mask everywhere inside. I still don’t hug, except Little eirias’ grandparents.

Ways I’ve eased up: General self care stuff I’d put off, I took care of in early summer. During the winter, I triaged store visits, only going out if absolutely necessary, and I’m doing less of that now. We did do a road trip, but still minimized shared air as much as we could: freestanding Airbnbs instead of hotels, kept restroom breaks quick and masked, that sort of thing. Looking at the trajectories around the country, I wouldn’t plan something like that now, so I’m glad I got the visit to my parents in when I did.

My workplace is returning to normal operations in about a month and I need to decide whether and how strongly to push for remote work. I am struggling with feelings of bitterness about the way that so much of the conversation about breakthrough infections, and the policy architecture built on that understanding, writes off this problem as ignorable, as though the unvaccinated are disposable, their risks entirely of their own making. Families in my situation are not few in number.
posted by eirias at 2:09 PM on July 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I'm in the same boat as eirias, facing a workplace that is planning a return to the office in a little over a month, where the entire complement of the firm is expected to be at their desks three days a week. Infections are on the rise, children--most of them not even eligible for vaccination yet--are going back to school, fall is historically the time when infections uptick because we're all going inside, and we don't really know how long the vaccinations will be effective.

Agree with others upthread that just because vaccination reduces your likelihood of symptomatic infection or hospitalization/death, that doesn't mean there will be no other consequences. I have underlying lung issues. I could fall within those parameters and yet still have long-term effects that could impact my quality of life.

I'm not going back to April 2020 levels of isolation. I feel pretty comfortable that masking while indoors unless with close family, maintaining a reasonable distance/short interval of interaction, and similar precautions should keep me relatively safe. I recognize that I am going to have to do some traveling in order to be able to do my job. But sitting in a 10x10 space with three other unmasked people (we'd be "allowed" to unmask when sitting at our desks) when there is no reason to do so...nope.
posted by Preserver at 6:08 PM on July 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Following are links to well written pages that I've chased down today, two recommended by members in this thread -- (TYVM schroedinger and babelfish)

An overview of today's CoVid-19 news from The Washington Post (Not behind a pay wall; WaPo gives these overviews free to all, sign up and they' show in your in-box)

Informative page from The Atlantic
4 Reasons I’m Wearing a Mask Again

An overview of this Delta situation from Slate

Scary overview, real well written, from MIT Medicine

I'm not going anywhere without a mask on, a good one -- I've got plenty, not put one on in a couple months. I intend only to go public for necessities, and to distance as much as I can while around others. No restaurants. No need to be with friends, going to fall back on phone/text/Zoom et cet. It doesn't matter if they've been given all of their shots -- it's clear that this Delta variant is dangerous, easy to contract, easy to pass around, also.

I've read *tons* of people taking a fatalistic approach, like "Ho, hum, I'm going to get it anyways, so what the hell." I may be destined to get it some day, but I'm going to push that day as far away as I can. Just because I'd likely not be hospitalized and/or dead, there are so many other things that can happen -- many long haulers tell a grim tale, one I do not want to tell, not today, not ever.

I'm so angry at Trump and those who believe him, and believe in him. It is Trump who led us into this mess, he and his dopey followers. I truly do wish them ill, all of them. That is not a thing for me to really hold to -- hatred, loathing, contempt, self-righteous indignation -- it'll eat me up, same as acid eats up leather. It's a dubious luxury that I cannot afford. Still, I do rather hope that their legs grow together.

Thank you to all who contributed I've learned a lot, I've learned what I'm going to do, and what I'm not going to do.

posted by dancestoblue at 11:07 PM on July 23, 2021 [18 favorites]

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