We talk to medical experts about what to expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Health experts say even after you get the COVID-19 vaccine,  you’ll still need to continue to wear a mask and avoid crowds after getting the shots.

Even though the vaccine has been called a medical miracle, and the light at the end of the tunnel, some heath officials warn us to be cautious, because we shouldn't underestimate how long the tunnel actually is. "We don’t want to take our eye off the prize," said Dr. Kevin Stephan, a board-certified infectious disease expert. "Everyone has sacrificed a lot so much."

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Stephan says that once you receive the vaccine, it doesn’t reach 50% effectiveness for weeks. "The best analogy I can use is, it’s like giving a little software code that goes into our body and tells our own cells how to make antibodies,” he said.

And that takes time. Only after you get the second shot do you reach 95 percent effectiveness, he said. “Even if it is 95, and that is really impressive, there’s still one in 20 people that can get a very serious COVID infection, even after getting the vaccine,” said Dr. Stephan.

To fully protect yourself, he says you’ll still need to steer clear of crowds, wear a mask in public, and wash your hands, even after you’re vaccinated. “I think there’s a common perception that, 'Oh, once I get this thing, it’s my golden ticket, I am good to go; I can go back to life as normal,'” said Dr. Stephan.

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He also said we won’t likely start going back to “normal” until later this year, when most people will have gotten the vaccine and there's less of the virus circulating in the community.

And remember, a single shot will not fully protect you.


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