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