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As Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots continue to become more accessible, you, and many people that you know, might slowly start to feel comfortable going out again. It’s only natural to be a little stir-crazy at this point and feel the urge to get out and travel, especially since more business and restaurants are opening up.
But it’s best to take a pause, be smart, and keep certain safety essentials on-hand when going back out in public (one of those things should still always be a face mask, officials say.) It’s a critical time, as the latest Omicron variant continues popping up around the country, and the CDC is urging everyone to take certain precautions—even if your immunity now has a boost.
So first things first: here’s what you can do when you’ve been fully vaccinated. Based on what we know about Covid-19 vaccines, CDC guidelines state that you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people, but you should still wear a mask indoors in public if you’re in an area of substantial or high transmission (which, due to the Delta variant, is mostly everywhere). If you’ve been exposed, you won’t have to stay away from others or get tested (unless you have symptoms) either. But you still have to take certain steps to protect yourself and others.
Say you have to go out somewhere public with heavy crowds, like a grocery store; or despite warnings against domestic and international travel, you still might have to take a flight for any number of reasons. Even if you finally feel comfortable enough to visit a local restaurant in person or hop on a plane, you still have to follow the basics. Here’s what you need to know, including tips on what should still be bringing with you when you leave the house.
How to Stay Safe From Covid-19 When Vaccinated
The CDC recently published a guide on recommendations for fully vaccinated people. But what’s considered “fully vaccinated” anyways? The guide states “people are considered fully vaccinated for Covid-19 less than two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or less than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen).” If that sounds like you, then you should still be:
- Wearing a well-fitted mask (see some of our top-reviewed options here)
- Practicing physical distancing, staying at least six feet apart from others when in public
- Avoiding medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
- Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
- Watching out for symptoms of Covid-19
- Still following CDC guidelines for travel
Sounds pretty much like what we’ve been doing all year, right? Even if you’re a pro by now at masking up and sanitizing as often as possible, the biggest challenge is knowing what you still have to take with you when you go out in public, or when you do have to do some long-distance traveling. Should you still keep sanitizer on hand? Or antibacterial wipes?
Don’t just toss your phone, wallet, and keys in your bag. Here are the necessary items to still keep prepared and protected against Covid-19 when you get back out there.
1. Light and Breathable Face Mask
While a single cloth face masks can keep you shielded on a walk, or quick trip to the grocery store, if you’re going to be out for a longer period of time, your mask should have a removable filter. Any face covering can help reduce the spread of Covid-19, but if you’re still unvaccinated, we recommend doubling up with a disposable mask underneath a reusable, washable face covering.
What about N95 vs. KN95 masks? You can certainly chose either, but if you go for a medical-grade mask, chose one without a valve (that just pushes air out at other people), and has a tight fit. Increase the fit of any mask with a good mask extender or FDA-approved tape to seal the edges.
One of our favorite reusable masks is this ProSport mask from BlueBear. It stands out from other masks because it includes a built-in slot for a filter, adding extra protection. It’s super gentle on the skin and won’t chafe, thanks to the soft and hypoallergenic fabric. The contoured shape fits more naturally over the face, and the adjustable straps help the mask stay put even during your longest days out. Get a 10-pack of replacement filters for $8.50 here.
2. Safety Goggles (or “Stoggles”)
The CDC recommends “protective eyewear” such as safety glasses during periods “where splashes and sprays are anticipated” or where “prolonged face-to-face or close contact with a potentially infectious patient is unavoidable.”‘ Even Dr. Fauci urged Americans to wear safety goggles with their virus-protection wardrobes last July.
While some pairs go more heavy-duty on protection (and might fit right in to a science lab), others are more practical, and can accommodate prescription lenses. We like this pair from Zenni, which features anti-scratch, impact-resistant lenses, and a superhydrophobic (read: water-repellant) anti-reflective coating. The adjustable nose pads make this an easy-to-wear protective style for every face shape. With a unique, retro silhouette, you don’t have to compromise style for protection.
3. Portable Hand Sanitizer
Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them off thoroughly is the best way to not transmit bacteria from your hands, according to the CDC. You should ideally wash them before and after you use the restroom, eat, or touch your face or mask.
But if you’re out and about and can’t get to any soap and water, hand sanitizer is another effective option. It’s convenient too, as long as you pick a sanitizer that’s made with at least 60% alcohol, and make to rub it in until it evaporates completely.
If you’re looking for a safe and effective formula, we like this natural “Power Mist” from Touchland. This sanitizer works double duty, and can also stave off dry airplane hands with moisturizing ingredients. The mist is formulated with 70% alcohol— exceeding CDC recommendations by 10%. It also contains aloe vera and lemon essential oil to help soothe sensitive skin. Each bottle is 30ml, and you can stock up with this special five-pack, which includes your own chosen assortment of scents.
4. Smartphone Sanitizer
You’d be surprised how dirty your phone can get, especially while out-and-about—the average smartphone has 17,032 germs on its surface. One of the easiest ways to clean your phone is with a good, portable UV smartphone sanitizer. That being said, while blasting your phone with UV light may reduce your exposure to bacteria containing Covid-19, but you should still take other precautions to limit your exposure.
That’s why we like the Invisible Shield UV Sanitizer from ZAGG, which can kill 99.9% of common surface bacteria on your phone in just five minutes. It’s great for disinfecting your keys, earbuds, wallet, sunglasses and other small accessories too. The Invisible Shield UV Sanitizer is 9.45 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and 1.57 inches deep, which is small enough that you easily carry it in a backpack. This is also one of the best UV sanitizers for under $100, so it’s a budget-friendly pick too.
5. Power Bank for Personal Electronics
This may not be something you have on-hand regularly, but here’s why you should: several business have switched over during the pandemic to contactless payments like Apple Pay and Paypal, and certain restaurants will only allow you to order ahead on an app, or use your smartphone to view the menu. A small power bank will keep your smartphone battery fully charged and ready, no matter where you are.
For quickly powering up your phone while you’re out and about, or in an emergency, we like Anker’s PowerCore Fusion. The 5,000mAh battery can fully recharge an iPhone 12 Pro once, and its ultra-fast USB-C power can charge it from zero to 50% in about 30 minutes. The PowerCore Fusion also has a USB-A port, so you can charge two devices at the same time. While it may not have the highest battery capacity, the PowerCore Fusion is super convenient, with a power plug built right in.
6. Portable Thermometer
While everyone from airport security to your local barbershop might check your temperature at the door, it’s handy to have a digital thermometer so you can check yourself before you go anywhere you know will be crowded, or where socially distancing is less than possible.
For expert precision and speed, we recommend the iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer, which uses an infrared sensor to get a temperature read in just one second. Instead of a loud beeping sound, the device vibrates once the reading is done.
Whether you’re in a well-lit area or a dark spot, visibility isn’t an issue, since you can easily see the numbers on the LED display. The weather outside won’t affect the temperature results, since the sensors take things like distance and environmental factors into account for the most accurate reading possible.
7. Travel-Pack of Disinfectant Wipes
It’s harder to catch Covid-19 from surfaces, so you don’t need to go crazy wiping down every surface you touch. But you should be regularly cleaning things that you touch regularly, like your phone, sunglasses, keys, and wallet. Once you set something down on a dirty, high-touch surface and pick it back up, you’re bringing that bacteria with you. That’s why it’s always good to carry a mini travel-pack of antibacterial wipes with you.
SONO Healthcare’s travel safe wipes are FDA-approved, and are good to use on most surfaces too, from wood to bathroom counters and even furniture upholstery. That makes it great around the house or office, to wipe down appliances, bathroom fixtures and high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and light switches too. The company says the wipes are effective at killing 99.9% of most common germs, including SARS-Cov-2 (which causes COVID-19). This three-pack gives you 20 disposable sanitizing wipes per pack.