CDC releases new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

The CDC has released new guidelines and recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The new CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals can safely visit other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances. 

Covid-19 vaccine,

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

“Fully vaccinated” is defined by the CDC as those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC will continue to update its guidance as more information becomes available though currently there is growing evidence that suggests people who are vaccinated do not spread Covid-19. However, scientists are still trying to understand how long vaccine protection lasts.

“The level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against Covid-19,” the guidelines state.

The new CDC guidelines state fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.
  • Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone who has Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days
CDC guidelines

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

This means that vaccinated grandparents may finally feel comfortable visiting their unvaccinated grandchildren, especially if they’re local, and as long as none of the unvaccinated people in that household are at risk for severe Covid-19.

And two fully vaccinated individuals, such as you and a friend, may now finally have dinner together.

However, there are still some precautions that fully vaccinated people must take in certain scenarios. CDC guidelines state fully vaccinated people must:

  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk
  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.

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Additionally, fully vaccinated people should continue basic safety precautions, including: wearing a well-fitted mask and keeping physical distance in public; avoiding medium- and large-sized crowds; avoiding poorly ventilated public spaces; washing hands frequently; and getting tested for Covid-19 if they feel sick.

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“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection, and therefore potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others,” said Tami Skoff, CDC epidemiologist on the Clinical Guidelines Team of the Vaccine Task Force.

Still, it is important that vaccinated individuals continue to practice safety precautions and distancing around vulnerable individuals such as older adults, pregnant women, and immuno-compromised individuals. The guidelines also discourage vaccinated individuals from gathering with more than one unvaccinated household. 

“According to the CDC recommendations, if unvaccinated persons from more than one household are participating in a visit, then these visits should continue to happen outside and everyone regardless of vaccination status should be physically distanced and wearing well-fitted masks,” said Skoff.

Additionally, even fully vaccinated people need to be careful when traveling, said Dr. Cynthia Ogden of CDC’s Covid emergency response team, and the CDC notes that its travel recommendations have not changed. 

“While we work to vaccinate more people, preventive measures such as pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel self quarantine, along with wearing well-fitted masks, will help us prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Ogden said.

“No vaccine is perfect. A small number of people could still get Covid-19 after getting fully vaccinated and they could spread the virus to unvaccinated people. We will be closely watching the trends in cases over the next month,” she said. “Until more is known and vaccine coverage increases, some preventive measures will continue to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status.”

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