Photo by Adene Sanchez via Getty Images
The rules also state that vaccinated people should feel free to mingle-and therefore hook up-with unvaccinated people who are low-risk in small groups, as long as the group doesn't mix unvaccinated people who live in different households. "If the person who's unvaccinated is at low risk for severe disease and is also at low risk for exposure, then it's probably a pretty low-risk situation" to have sex with them, said Liu. Basically: Once you have the vaccine, you can have sex with any other partner who's low-risk that you want, vaccinated or not.
It's still unclear if vaccinated people could be asymptomatically infected and transmit the coronavirus to unvaxxed people who could get sick, but recent data suggest the vaccines drastically reduce how contagious an infected person is. It'll be important to keep an eye on the variants that are rapidly spreading-though the vaccines are highly effective against the original coronavirus, it's unclear exactly how well they'll hold up against new variants. With all things, unvaccinated people still need to gauge their personal risk and take extra precautions-"that also applies to having sex," Liu said.
You might also be wondering if a quick rapid test could make sex between a vaccinated person and an unvaccinated person feel even safer. When in doubt, Liu said, "It's better to test than not test." Because researchers are still trying to understand how vaccinated people contract and transmit the coronavirus, rapid tests could provide an extra layer of protection for unvaccinated parties. There is one huge caveat, and that's that rapid tests don't produce positive results in infected individuals until a few days after they've been infected, so they could give a false negative result even if a person was actually infected. "They're not 100 percent accurate," Liu said.
At this point, there's no frequency cap on how often vaccinated people can have close contact with others, vaxxed or not. The CDC states that fully vaccinated people who've been exposed to COVID-19 and don't have symptoms do not need to quarantine, but they should isolate and get tested if symptoms appear. Either way, your partners would probably appreciate knowing how many degrees away they are from a coronavirus case-especially as new variants whip around. "Until we know how the [vaccine] interacts with variants that are popping up, we won't fully understand how much protection is conferred," said Liu.
The main takeaway, according to Liu, is that weighing your risk isn't about sex itself, it's about sharing air. "If it's safe to be around someone and breathe the same air, then there's no additional risk from sex above and beyond in terms of COVID," she said.