by Beth Mole: The guidance is likely a relief to many Americans yearning for family visits…
People who are fully vaccinated can safely have private visits with unvaccinated people who have a low risk for severe COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today in highly anticipated guidance for vaccinated people.
In the guidance, the CDC considers people fully vaccinated once they have waited two weeks after their second dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Though it may still be possible for fully vaccinated people to contract the pandemic coronavirus, have an asymptomatic or mild infection, and possibly spread the virus, the risk is considered low.
As such, once people are fully vaccinated, they can meet in private indoor settings—such as a home—with other fully vaccinated people without masks and without physical distancing.
Fully vaccinated people can also meet in private indoor settings with unvaccinated people without masks and without physical distancing—if those unvaccinated people are from a single household and they do NOT have an increased risk of severe COVID-19. That means unvaccinated people who are under age 65 and do not have any underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
If an unvaccinated person with high risk of severe disease enters the mix at any point (if they are present for the visit or absent during the visit, but living in an involved household) then everyone—including the fully vaccinated people—needs to keep wearing masks, stay physically distanced, and meet in a well-ventilated outdoor space.
Similarly, when fully vaccinated people are meeting with unvaccinated people from multiple households—regardless of risk status—everyone should be masked, distanced, and meet outdoors in a well-ventilated space to prevent spread among the unvaccinated.
Lastly, fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine or be tested for COVID-19 if they have a known exposure to an infected person but do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.
While the new guidance loosens the restrictions in these specific private settings, the CDC held onto restrictions on travel and in public settings. That means fully vaccinated people should still avoid gatherings, non-essential travel, and still wear masks and stay physically distanced in public places.
“COVID-19 continues to exact a tremendous toll on our nation,” Walensky said. “Like you, I want to be able to return to everyday activities and engage with our friends, families, and communities.”
Though many families will rejoice in today’s guidance, “it is not our final destination,” she added. “As more people get vaccinated, levels of COVID-19 infection decline in communities, and as our understanding of COVID immunity improves, we look forward to updating these recommendations to the public.”