04 May Are you Fully Vaccinated? Here’s How to Keep Safe.
Efforts to roll-out COVID-19 vaccines are accelerating across the United States. President Biden has announced there will be enough supply to vaccinate every adult in the nation by the end of this May. While this is important progress, public health officials warn there could be an increase in cases of the virus fueled by new variants if public health restrictions are relaxed prematurely.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued new guidance indicating it is safe for fully vaccinated people to spend time together, as well as with unvaccinated people from one other household who are at low risk of severe COVID-19 illness. However, fully vaccinated people should continue washing hands, social distancing and wearing a mask in public to help protect themselves and others. This will also help slow the spread of any new variants by preventing the virus from mutating.
The CDC has provided the following recommendations for non-healthcare settings (as of April 27, 2021):
Fully vaccinated people can:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues
- Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
- Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
- Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
- Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
- Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in indoor public settings like wearing a well-fitted mask
- Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
- Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid indoor large-sized in-person gatherings
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
Overall, the CDC concludes that currently authorized vaccines are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19. Additionally, a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others. For fully-vaccinated grandparents, this means you can visit (and hug) your unvaccinated children and grandchildren.
How long vaccine protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against emerging variants are still under investigation. Until more is known and vaccination coverage increases, some prevention measures will continue to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status. However, the benefits of reducing social isolation and relaxing some measures such as quarantine requirements may outweigh the residual risk of fully vaccinated people becoming ill with COVID-19 or transmitting the virus to others.
Before life returns to normal, health experts say enough Americans must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, which will significantly slow the spread of the virus. Estimates of when the nation will reach this point range from this summer to early 2022. Factors affecting this timeline include the percentage of those willing to get vaccinated, the availability of an authorized vaccine for children and how well the vaccines combat more contagious variants of the virus. The CDC will continue to evaluate and update public health recommendations for vaccinated people as more information becomes available.
For more guidance and information, please see the CDC site.