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What Can I Do Now That I'm Fully Vaccinated?

We break down the new CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people

Fully vaccinated Americans can now spend time together indoors, unmasked without social distancing, according to this announcement by the CDC on Monday. This is not only great news, it’s one step closer to returning to normal. But there’s a lot to unpack, which is why we’ve broken it down for you. 

What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated?”

To be fully vaccinated, you would have received your final dose of the COVID vaccine at least two weeks ago. In the case of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, that’s two weeks after the second dose. For the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that’s two weeks after the first (and only) dose.

Before, there was only a 90-day window for fully vaccinated people. Is this open-ended now?

Yes, the CDC is now recommending that this quarantine exemption for exposed people who are fully vaccinated doesn’t have an end date, at least for now. We still don’t know much about how long the vaccines protect us, so we expect to hear more about this once we have more data. We might find that it protects you forever, or we might find that it protects you for about a year. We’ll need to wait until we find out more about that to know what this will look like moving forward, but for now, this is good news. 

What can a fully vaccinated person do? 

The CDC has listed a few key (and exciting!) things that fully vaccinated people can do. Those include:

  • Indoor visits with other fully vaccinated people without the need to wear masks or social distance.
  • Indoor visits with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease without the need to wear masks or social distance.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure, as long as you don’t have any symptoms.

What precautions do fully vaccinated people need to keep taking? 

Even fully vaccinated people should:

  • Maintain previous safety precautions (masking, social distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings) whenever they are with high-risk people.
  • Wear a mask and practice social distancing in public places and around large groups or crowds.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel.

One reason for this is that we still don’t know a whole lot about the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. For high-risk people or large groups, even one case of COVID can lead to real trouble.


Why these changes now?

There is growing evidence that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and are potentially less likely to transmit COVID to others.

Scientists are still studying transmission and duration of protection in fully vaccinated people, as well as how well they protect against emerging variants. 

Given the initial data, our best guess is that the CDC wants to balance caution with the risk of going too long without providing guidelines for the increasingly large population who are vaccinated. Plus, this helps with two other concerns. First, it allows older, vaccinated Americans to start seeing their also-vaccinated friends and helps them to be less isolated, a huge concern for mental health during the pandemic. Plus it’s another great reason to get vaccinated if you won’t need to quarantine if you’re exposed later. 

What about travel? Have the guidelines changed for fully vaccinated people?

Unfortunately, no. The CDC still recommends the same testing and quarantine regimen for travelers, regardless of vaccination status. That includes getting tested 1-3 days before your trip and again 3-5 days after your trip, plus self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if your test is negative. If you don’t get tested, the recommendation is to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

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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.