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UPDATE: CDC Quietly Changes Quarantine Guidelines for Vaccinated People

Fully vaccinated people are exempt from quarantine, CDC says - with some important caveats...

Fully vaccinated people can skip quarantine in certain circumstances

The CDC quietly updated one page of its website about mRNA vaccines with some big news this past week.

  • Those who are fully vaccinated will be exempt from quarantine after exposure...
  • Only if it’s at least 2 weeks after their second dose...
  • AND only for 90 days after their second dose.

We are now recommending that you adopt this guidance, and start to focus on how you'll keep vaccination records.

  • While this is still new and there are many CDC website pages that don’t mention this at all, our contacts at the CDC have now said that this guidance is here to stay. We do expect that the length of time may change as we get more data on how long vaccines provide protection.
  • Soon, we will be rolling out a vaccination record keeping tool available for many of our clients, where employees and their managers will be able to tell us when they got vaccinated and upload their card/record of vaccination. We’ll work to integrate this info into our current daily wellness checks for clients using that service. We'll share more with our clients early next week. If you're interested in learning more about our vaccination record keeping solution, email us at
  • The good (and bad) news is that there aren’t very many of your employees who are fully vaccinated yet for this to apply to, so we have some time to figure it out. 
  • Stay tuned for more updates in this blog post.


What about transmission? I thought vaccination doesn’t necessarily prevent you from spreading the virus?

That’s true. We still don’t know if you can spread the coronavirus after being vaccinated (it just hasn’t been studied yet), but the CDC is taking a gamble here. They think that a lot of transmission is pre-symptomatic (before you develop symptoms) rather than asymptomatic (without ever developing symptoms). Plus they think that the “individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine” may outweigh the possible but unknown risk of transmission. 

Why 90 days for vaccination “immunity”? Does that mean the vaccine only protects for 90 days?

No, it just means they don’t know how long the vaccine DOES protect someone. Early reports show much more than that. But we know that it does protect for at least 90 days. And the 90 day recommendation just aligns nicely with what the CDC is already saying to do for those who recovered from confirmed COVID and have developed “natural immunity" - those people can skip quarantine for 90 days if exposed, also. Sticking to 90 days for both types of immunity (post-COVID and post-vaccination) helps make guidelines clearer and simpler to follow

Can fully vaccinated people still get sick?

Yes. Even though the vaccine protects against the virus, some people may still get sick after being vaccinated. Most have significantly reduced severity and length of illness if they do get sick. So, fully vaccinated people who don’t quarantine should still watch for symptoms for 14 days after exposure, and if they get sick, should take all the same precautions as someone who wasn’t vaccinated. Anyone who is symptomatic, regardless of if they’re vaccinated, will need to be excluded. 

This is listed on an mRNA vaccination page on the CDC site. Does that mean it’s only for the mRNA vaccines? Will it be true for others? Why isn’t it on the updates page?

We aren’t sure, but we think that the CDC may have just posted this prematurely or without consulting across all of the various working groups.  As of Wednesday, Feb 10th at 5:30pm EST, the page called “Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States” was the only one that mentioned this.

There’s no reason to believe that this is only for mRNA vaccines, so the more likely situation is that this is just the first place they updated it. We expect to get more info in the next week or so.

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.