CDC Guidance Says Individuals Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Can Safely Gather Indoors Without Masks, Physical Distancing

March 8th 2021
Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor

The guidance said relaxing certain measures for vaccinated individuals may help improve COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake.

The CDC has released new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, saying that they can safely gather with other fully vaccinated people or with unvaccinated people who are at low risk for severe COVID-19.

Although the guidelines still urge vaccinated individuals to wear masks and continue to remain physically distanced in public spaces, the CDC said that vaccinated people can safely visit with others who are vaccinated indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. When visiting those who are unvaccinated, the guidelines state that vaccinated individuals can visit those from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 without masks or physical distancing.

Notably, the guidelines also said vaccinated individuals can refrain from quarantining and testing following a known COVID-19 exposure if they are asymptomatic. Regardless of vaccination status, however, those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate from others and get tested if indicated.

The guidance said relaxing certain measures for vaccinated individuals may help improve vaccine acceptance and uptake. According to the CDC, individuals are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series or 2 weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine. Indoor visits in which everyone is fully vaccinated present a low risk. For this reason, the guidance said masks and physical distancing are not necessary in small, fully vaccinated groups.

Visits and small gatherings likely pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people, the guidance said, although larger groups and those including unvaccinated people from multiple households increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Vaccinated people should still be mindful of potentially spreading the virus to others, especially those who are unvaccinated or at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Because vaccinated individuals are likely at low risk, the guidelines said the level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people. For example, masks should still be worn around older adults or those at high risk of severe COVID-19, and physical distancing should still be maintained. Notably, everyone in the group should take these precautions, including those who are fully vaccinated.

Risks during other activities outside the home, such as eating at a restaurant or going to the gym, are also lower for vaccinated individuals. However, the guidelines said precautions should still be taken to prevent transmission of COVID-19 to unvaccinated individuals. These precautions include wearing a well-fitting mask, maintaining at least 6 feet of space between people, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands frequently.

REFERENCE

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. CDC; Updated March 8, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html. Accessed March 8, 2021.

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