The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance Monday for people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a highly anticipated step as the nation tries to ease back into normality following almost a year of restrictions due to the pandemic.
“There are some activities that fully vaccinated people can begin to resume now in the privacy of their own homes. Everyone — even those who are vaccinated — should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
According to the guidance, fully vaccinated people can safely visit with other fully vaccinated people and some unvaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing, according to the guidance. Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks following either a single shot of Johnson & Johnson’s newly authorized vaccine or two weeks after their second shot of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s two-dose regimens.
About 58.9 million people in the U.S. have received at least one shot with 30.7 million of those people receiving two doses, just over 9% of the nation’s population, according to the CDC, which doesn’t break down which vaccine people received.
People who are fully inoculated can also visit with unvaccinated people from a single household without wearing masks or social distancing as long as they’re at low risk for severe disease, the CDC says.
“For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit indoors with their unvaccinated healthy daughter and her healthy children without wearing masks or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19,” according to the CDC guidance.
Fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine or get tested for Covid-19 if exposed to someone with the virus as long as they’re not showing symptoms, the agency advises. However, if a vaccinated person begins to display symptoms, they should isolate themselves and get tested for Covid-19.
There are still some activities fully vaccinated people can’t do just yet, the CDC warns. Vaccinated Americans should still avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings, and they should also continue wearing face masks and social distancing when in public.
If a vaccinated person is visiting someone who is at risk for severe disease and is unvaccinated, they should still wear a mask, keep a 6-foot distance and try to visit outdoors when possible, the agency says.
The federal health agency said everyone should refrain from traveling, even if they’re vaccinated against the disease.
“In terms of travel, here’s what we know: Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 press briefing. “We’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.”
While a growing body of evidence suggests that people who are inoculated against Covid-19 are less likely to transmit the disease to others, it’s still not known how long someone’s protection might last or the effectiveness of the shots against emerging Covid-19 variants, the CDC said in a statement.
“While the new guidance is a positive step, many more people need to be fully vaccinated before everyone can stop taking most COVID-19 precautions,” the CDC said. “It is important that, until then, everyone continues to adhere to important mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who remain unvaccinated.”
The CDC will continue issuing guidance for vaccinated people as more Americans are given shots, Walensky said.
For weeks, top U.S. health officials have warned that highly transmissible variants of the virus, specifically the strain first identified in the U.K., known as B.1.1.7, could derail the nation’s progress and exacerbate the pandemic. Despite those warnings, a handful of state leaders have moved to reopen their economies and eliminate mask mandates.
“Today’s action represents an important first step; it is not our final destination,” Walensky said. “As more people get vaccinated, levels of Covid-19 infection decline in communities, and as our understanding of Covid immunity improves, we look forward to updating these recommendations to the public.”
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