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Approximately 700 Clarke County teachers, faculty and staff members received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the Clarke Central High School gymnasium on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. As COVID-19 vaccines become more and more available throughout the Athens and University of Georgia communities, questions about what people can go back to doing now that they have been fully vaccinated have been on the rise. (Photo/Zachary Tate, ztate@randb.com)

As COVID-19 vaccines become more available throughout the Athens and University of Georgia communities, people are asking what activities they can resume.

There are three questions to answer before making the best decision, according to Dr. Leana Wen, an American physician, op-ed columnist with The Washington Post and CNN medical analyst. Here is how you can figure out which activities you can go back to and which ones you should wait before resuming.

What is your personal risk profile and your household’s?

While there is no question that the efficacy rates of the authorized vaccines in the U.S. are high in both combating COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalization due to COVID-19, it does not mean that it is 100% effective. Therefore, common practices such as washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask around people who may have not gotten vaccinated, eating healthy and watching your social distance can significantly help you stay safe.

Although you may be vaccinated, is everyone else in your household? This can include individuals such as children who do not yet have authorization to receive the vaccine. However, children can contract COVID-19 from you, even though you have gotten the vaccine, as you can still carry and transmit the virus.

If you have individuals who you see often that have not gotten vaccinated, encourage them to get vaccinated, or wait for authorization from the Food and Drug Administration if they are too young to be vaccinated.

Recent news sources have stated that the FDA may authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and older as early as next week, which can help some people’s risk profile among their household as well.

What is your personal risk tolerance and comfort?

Coming straight out of a quarantine that lasted a year can be tough mentally and physically. Are you ready to sit indoors at restaurants? Are you okay with walking around the park without your mask?

For some, the answer may be a huge “yes” with eagerness to return back to “normal.” However, for others the pandemic trauma may still be prevalent.

It is important to go at your own pace in returning to a new normal. If you would rather eat outdoors at restaurants, avoid guests in the house or wear a mask while walking outside, this is totally acceptable. If you’d like to not do those things, it is equally acceptable. It is important to know yourself and what you are comfortable with and also what the members of your household are comfortable with.

What are the circumstances of the activities involved?

As you make the decision to perhaps go watch a movie at a theater or invite a small gathering of people to your house or even go to a mini concert outdoors, it is important to know how many people may be in the environment and if you will be able to follow simple and safe guidelines.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slowly easing restrictions, it still doesn’t mean that everyone around you is vaccinated and safe. Going to a large concert or a party indoors with a lot of people can still be risky. In those circumstances, it is recommended to hold off on participating until more people in the community get vaccinated in order to keep you and others around you safe.

In this sense, it is good to question not only what you and your family members are comfortable with, but also the chances of you contracting the virus in the environment you are planning on going or participating in. This can depend on the event or activity being indoors or outdoors, the amount of people near you and also the guidelines the event or activity may implement. This should give you a clearer scope of making the decision.