CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Can Get Together Indoors, Unmasked

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely gather indoors and without masks, according to new guidance from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Monday. 

They can also visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease, and don’t have quarantine or get tested if they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19 after contact with someone who has COVID-19, according to the recommendations.

People are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the last required dose of a vaccine. In the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use since December, that’s two weeks after the second of two shots. For the more recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that’s two weeks after the single shot.

“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky in a statement. “There are some activities that fully vaccinated people can begin to resume now in their own homes. Everyone – even those who are vaccinated – should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings. As the science evolves and more people get vaccinated, we will continue to provide more guidance to help fully vaccinated people safely resume more activities.”

The CDC recommends fully vaccinated people continue to take COVID-19 precautions including wearing a well-fitted mask when in public, visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple other households, and visiting with unvaccinated people at high risk for severe disease, maintaining 6 foot social distancing from people they don’t live with, avoiding medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings, and getting tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

The CDC says they’re still working to learn how well the vaccines prevent people from spreading the disease and how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Robust clinical trial data demonstrate that the current COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19,” Walensky said in a Monday news conference. “However, there is still a small risk that vaccinated people could become infected with milder or asymptomatic disease and potentially even transmit the virus to others who are not vaccinated. Understanding the size of this risk in vaccinated people and…the risk of transmitting the virus to others who are not vaccinated is an ongoing area of research.”

Although vaccinations are accelerating, CDC estimates that just 9.2% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine that the FDA has authorized for emergency use.

President Joe Biden has said there will be enough vaccine doses for all adult Americans by the end of May. Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation announced last month that it appears Dallas County might reach herd immunity, or the protection from infectious disease that comes when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection, by the end of June.

The CDC says they will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, rates of COVID-19 in the community change, and additional scientific evidence becomes available.

In other news:

  • Dallas County Monday reported 500 more COVID-19 cases — 424 confirmed cases and 76 probable — and 27 additional deaths. Among the deaths reported Monday were a Dallas woman in her 20s who was found dead at her home and didn’t have underlying conditions, and a Dallas woman in her 30s who had underlying conditions.
  • According to PCCI’s COVID-19 Vulnerability Index Dallas County saw a 66% reduction in risk in February, with some of the most vulnerable ZIP codes showing significant reductions. For more information, visit PCCI’s website, and this story in our sister publication, D Magazine.
  • The Dallas Public Library will begin offering laptops bundled with hotspots to borrow using their library cards this week. The first 100 Chromebook+Hotspot bundles will roll out this week at nine library locations. An additional 1,125 Laptop+Hotspot bundles will be released in April at 20 locations. Those computers will be loaded with Microsoft Office.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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