We still need to be very careful, but this is a big step.
The Centers for Disease Control announced today their guidelines for people who are fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, "With more and more people getting vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner."
I am going to take a pause here and let that phrase sink in. Because this is happening.
But before we dive into the guidelines, it is critical that we remember that we are far from out of the woods. This is a moment for hope, 100%. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and my goodness, we deserve some joy.
And, we must remember that this is not over, and it is up to every single one of us to keep fighting by protecting ourselves and our community. This will end—but we need to keep being incredibly careful, especially when it comes to vulnerable people and our communities. "We must balance the risk to people who have been fully-vaccinated, the risks to those who have not yet received the vaccine, and the impact on the larger community transmission of COVID-19," said Walensky.
Per Walensky, "as more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence tells us that there are some activities that fully-vaccinated people can resume at low risk to themselves." This is due to the high efficacy of the vaccines at "protecting vaccinated people against severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19."
She continues by reminding us that "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." These concerns are continuing to be studied, and we can expect updates as they are learned.
The CDC also states that the following guidelines are "initial." We can anticipate that these guidelines will change as we learn more. As always, remember to consult with your medical provider to help you determine what is safest for you and your family.
Who is included in the new CDC guidelines for fully-vaccinated people?
The CDC describes what activities are considered safe for those who are fully-vaccinated. This means people that are at least two weeks past receiving their second doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two weeks past receiving their one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (which only requires a single dose).
Can fully-vaccinated people visit other fully-vaccinated people?
According to the new CDC guidelines, yes, fully-vaccinated people can visit with other fully-vaccinated people, "in private settings, such as their homes." They can do this without masking and indoors. The emphasis here is that it must be "private settings where everyone is vaccinated."
A particularly exciting part of this announcement came with Walensky said, that "you can visit your grandparents, if you have been vaccinated and they have been, too."
But before you jump into the car, there is more to be aware of. For example, if two vaccinated people are going to meet, they must still consider the risks of the unvaccinated people in their lives—and for much of the Motherly audience, this includes our children who are not yet vaccinated.
Can fully-vaccinated people visit unvaccinated people?
Per the CDC, "Fully-vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from one other household, indoors, without wearing masks or physical distancing, as long as the unvaccinated people, and any unvaccinated members of their household, are not at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease."
This is where it starts to get more complicated. The CDC stresses the importance of assessing the risks of the unvaccinated people, in this scenario, including any unvaccinated members of their household.
High-risk people may include:
- Adults over the age of 65
- People with underlying conditions* (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and more)
*(If you are unsure if you are considered high-risk, consult with your medical provider for guidance.)
If someone is unvaccinated and at high-risk for severe COVID-19 disease, everyone, even those who received the vaccine, should still adhere to the guidelines we have been following: Wear a mask, physically distance and meet outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.
Can vaccinated grandparents visit their grandchildren?
This is the question so many of us have been desperate to have answered. And the news is mostly awesome.
In fact, Walensky addressed this specific concern in her briefing. She said, "If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family, even if they have not been vaccinated, so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease."
Can vaccinated people meet with unvaccinated people from multiple households?
When multiple households are involved (opposed to a single household) everyone needs to follow the current guidelines: Wear a mask, physically distance and meet outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.
Do fully-vaccinated people still need to quarantine?
Fully-vaccinated people have new guidance on quarantining. "Fully-vaccinated people do not need to quarantine or get tested following a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 as long as they are asymptomatic." Travel guidance is remaining the same for now.
You should still check with your employer or school to see what their specific recommendations are.
Can fully-vaccinated people lighten up on their COVID precautions?
Aside from the changes listed above, no, fully-vaccinated people should not lessen their COVID vigilance. People who are fully-vaccinated still need to adhere to the COVID recommendations we have been following. These include:
- Wearing a mask in public
- Social distancing in public
- Avoiding medium to large gatherings
- Getting tested if they have any COVID symptoms
- Following employer guidelines
- Following travel recommendations
Walensky said, "We remain in the midst of a serious pandemic, and still over 90% of our population is not fully-vaccinated."
These updates are incredibly exciting because they feel like hope. But to truly beat the pandemic, we must continue to be safe—if we are not, this will go on for even longer.
As guidelines continue to change, remember to consult with your medical provider for specific information about your situation. And, let's all please be kind and truthful. When someone tells you they are still not comfortable gathering, be gentle. When someone asks you if you are fully-vaccinated be truthful (or, if you prefer not to disclose, do not knowingly put someone in a dangerous position).
We can do this, but we have to keep fighting. In the words of Walensky, "Science and the protection of public health must guide us."
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