By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always, consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.

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Why does the CDC now say that people who are vaccinated no longer need to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19? 

The CDC says if you have been fully vaccinated within the past three months, meaning you’ve received both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, it’s been at least two weeks since your last dose, and you don’t have any symptoms of COVID, you no longer need to quarantine for 14 days if you come into contact with someone with COVID-19.  If you develop symptoms, you need to quarantine and get tested.  

We still don’t know whether vaccinated people can pass the virus on to others, but scientists believe the risk of asymptomatic spread after vaccination is probably worth the societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantining.

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Allie writes, “If I’ve had the vaccine do I still have to quarantine (or get tested) when I return to Massachusetts after traveling?”

According to the Mass.gov website, yes. I suspect they will relax the travel requirements for people who are fully vaccinated at some point.

Laura is a healthy 76-year-old. She asks, “After I get vaccinated, should I feel comfortable going back into stores and volunteering at a food pantry with a mask on?”

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Vaccination will provide good protection, but the vaccines are not 100% effective.  So, there is still a chance that you could get infected with the coronavirus. You’re less likely to get very sick from it but there is still a small risk.  You’ll have to decide what risk you’re willing to assume. If you do return to volunteering at food pantries, make sure you wear your mask at all times (consider double masking), make sure others do the same, and keep your distance.

Dr. Mallika Marshall