The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines on Monday for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This is a highly anticipated move as the nation seeks to return to normal after nearly a year of restrictions due to the pandemic.
“There are some activities where fully vaccinated people can now be resumed in the privacy of their own home. Everyone – including those who have been vaccinated – should continue with any mitigation strategies in public facilities,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made a statement.
According to the guidance, fully vaccinated individuals can safely visit indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals and some unvaccinated individuals without wearing masks or social distancing. Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after a single shot of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer two-dose regimen.
Approximately 58.9 million people in the United States received at least one shot, with 30.7 million of those people receiving two doses, just over 9% of the country’s population, according to the CDC, which does not break down which vaccines people received .
Pharmacist Madeline Acquilano vaccinates public school safety officer Victor Rodriguez with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on March 3, 2021.
Joseph Precious | AFP | Getty Images
People who are fully vaccinated can also visit unvaccinated people from a single household without wearing masks or social distancing, as long as they are at low risk of serious illness, according to the CDC.
“For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can go indoors with their unvaccinated healthy daughter and healthy children without masks or physical distance, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at serious risk of COVID-19,” the CDC guidelines said.
Fully vaccinated people don’t need to be quarantined or tested for Covid-19 if exposed to someone with the virus as long as they don’t show symptoms, the agency advises. However, if a vaccinated person shows symptoms, they should isolate and be tested for Covid-19.
There are still some activities that fully vaccinated people cannot yet do, the CDC warns. Vaccinated Americans should continue to avoid medium and large face-to-face gatherings and continue to wear face masks and social distancing when in public.
If a vaccinated person visits someone who is at risk of serious illness and who is not vaccinated, they should still wear a mask, stay 6 feet away, and try to go outside if possible, the agency said.
The federal health department said everyone shouldn’t travel even if they have been vaccinated against the disease.
“When it comes to travel, we know this: every time there is an increase in travel, there is an increase in cases in this country,” Walensky said at a Covid-19 White House press conference. “We hope our next guidelines will have more science on what vaccinated people can do, maybe travel among them.”
While growing body of evidence suggests that people vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to spread the disease to others, it is still not known how long a person’s protection could last or how effective the shots against newly occurring ones Covid-19 variants are CDC said in a statement.
“While the new guidelines are a positive move, many more people will need to be fully vaccinated before all can take most of the COVID-19 precautions,” the CDC said. “It is important that until then everyone continues to take important mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who are not vaccinated.”
The CDC will continue to issue guidelines for people who have been vaccinated as more Americans receive shots, Walensky said.
For weeks, leading U.S. health officials have been warning that highly transmissible variants of the virus, particularly strain B.1.1.7 first identified in the UK, could harm the nation’s progress and make the pandemic worse. Despite these warnings, a handful of heads of state have reopened their economies and abolished masked mandates.
“Today’s action is an important first step. It is not our ultimate goal,” said Walensky. “The more people vaccinated, the lower the levels of Covid-19 infection in communities. As our understanding of Covid immunity improves, we look forward to making these recommendations public.”