The complex psychology of post-vaccination safety – STAT

A friend invited me to her home for a birthday party. “Ten of us will be there,” she wrote. “I’m pretty sure we’ve all been vaccinated, so we should be OK.”

It was the first invitation to an indoor dinner I had received in almost a year.

Six other friends are planning a tropical vacation and invited me to join them.


“Aren’t you worried about Covid?” I asked, feeling a bit nerdy for raising the question.

“Not really. Two of us have gotten both our vaccines.”


“What about the others?”

“Two have gotten one vaccine each, and the other two have been very careful.”

And this from another friend: “I feel like I just got into Harvard Law School!” she wrote. “I just got my first vaccine! But is it now OK to fly if I wear a mask the whole time?”

These people are struggling with the same questions about safety I’m struggling with, having just been vaccinated. We are wondering how to change our behaviors and interactions, and understand just how protected we and the others we encounter are — or aren’t.

In early March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people can visit each other or members of a single unvaccinated household indoors without wearing masks or physically distancing themselves. These clarifications, along with the fact that millions of Americans are now getting shots, are welcome news.

But how will Americans respond? In the next weeks and months, millions of people