Although it is still noticeably low, the number of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is growing daily. Those people have increasingly asked for guidance about what they now can -- and cannot -- do. In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidelines.
“COVID-19 continues to exert a tremendous toll on our nation,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, CNN reports. “Like you, I want to be able to return to everyday activities and engage with our friends, families, and communities. Science, and the protection of public health, must guide us as we begin to resume these activities.” Let’s take a look at the CDC guidance.
What You Can Do Once Fully Vaccinated
As a quick reminder, people are considered fully vaccinated if it has been at least two weeks since they received the second dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Alternatively, if it has been at least two weeks since someone received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, they are fully vaccinated.
With that in mind, if someone is fully vaccinated, the CDC guidance explains that they may now gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people -- and no longer need to wear a mask in that setting. In other good news, they also may gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without wearing a mask -- unless any of those people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
“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 CDC guidance.
What’s more, if someone has been fully vaccinated and they are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, they no longer need to quarantine or get tested -- unless they develop symptoms.
What You Can’t Do Even After Fully Vaccinated
Even if someone is fully vaccinated, they “should still take steps to protect [themselves] and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces,” the CDC guidance explains.
Those who are fully vaccinated should specifically follow that guidance if they do gather with people from more than one other household who have not been vaccinated. That guidance also applies when a vaccinated person visits an unvaccinated person who has an increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 -- or lives with someone else at such risk, the CDC explains.
What about attending crowded events? The CDC guidance explains that people who are fully vaccinated should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings and events.
At the White House meeting, Dr. Walensky also explained that even if someone is fully vaccinated, they should avoid travel.
“Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” Walensky said. “We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time, and we’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do.”
The good news is that scientists now know the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19, and they are particularly effective at preventing severe illness and death resulting from COVID-19. Unfortunately, however, there still is a great deal that’s not known about the virus -- including how effective the vaccines are against variants.
Consequently, although being vaccinated does prevent people from spreading the COVID-19 virus, it’s important to continue other preventative measures as well. Those include -- of course -- wearing a mask around other people, maintaining a social distance of six feet from other people, avoiding crowds, and washing hands often. More details about the CDC guidance can be found here, and you can see all our COVID-19 coverage here.