The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released long-awaited guidance Monday on what Americans who receive COVID-19 shots can do once they are fully vaccinated.
Americans who have been fully vaccinated – meaning they're two weeks past receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks past receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine – can gather in small groups with other vaccinated people without social distancing or wearing masks.
"We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.
According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can:
- Visit other fully vaccinated people indoors, without social distancing or wearing masks
- Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone with COVID-19, but do not show symptoms
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household without social distancing or wearing masks, as long as the unvaccinated people are not at high risk for severe disease
"If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family, even if they have not been vaccinated," Dr. Walensky explained, an example of how the new guidelines will allow older family members to visit with younger ones.
However, the CDC still recommends that vaccinated Americans continue to wear masks in public, avoid large gatherings, and avoid travel, even to see vaccinated family members.
"Still over 90 percent of the population is not yet vaccinated," Dr. Walensky said. "It is our responsibility to make sure in the context of 60,000 new cases a day that we protect those who remain unvaccinated and remain vulnerable."
Officials also explained the reason why travel remains restricted for people who have gotten the shot, especially given the guidance that vaccinated people who are exposed to the virus do not have to quarantine.
"Every time there's a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country. We know that many of our variants have emerged from international places. And we know that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot," Dr. Walensky said. "We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time."
The CDC Director said opening up more activities to vaccinated people will require both more vaccinations and more data, including about whether they can still spread the virus if infected with a less-severe version of COVID-19.
The CDC also recommends that vaccinated people practice safe social distancing when out in public as well as get tested if they develop symptoms related to COVID-19.