Welcome Inside: Vaccinated, Mask-Free and CDC Approved

The long-awaited guidelines say it’s safe to gather inside with other fully vaccinated people — sans masks or social distancing — two weeks after receiving a final Covid-19 vaccine dose. 

Dr. Mayank Amin administers a coronavirus vaccine to Aubrie Cusumano while son Luca looks on last month in Skippack, Pa. (Chorus Media Group via AP)

(CN) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off Monday on fully vaccinated people gathering indoors without masks or keeping 6 feet apart. 

In guidance updated Monday, the CDC laid out its first rules for resuming in-person activities post-vaccination, saying the guidelines are subject to change as the science surrounding Covid-19 continues to develop. 

As for interacting with those who are not vaccinated, the CDC laid out parameters for when it is safe to be indoors without a mask among such people. Provided that no one in the group is at an increased risk for severe Covid-19 symptoms, masks are not needed if vaccinated people meet up indoors with unvaccinated members of a single household, such as a group of relatives who share one home.

The new guidelines don’t absolve those who have been vaccinated from guidelines to slow the pandemic’s spread: When in public, or around people from more than one household, everyone vaccinated or not should still wear a well-fitting or double mask and practice social distancing. 

Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC cautions against medium or large gatherings and encourages frequent coronavirus testing. But those who have received a vaccine don’t need to quarantine after being around someone who has Covid-19, unless they start showing symptoms of illness. 

The watershed announcement comes nearly one year after the new strain of coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 spread around the planet, infecting nearly 117 million people and killing more than 2.5 million, with more than half a million deaths in the United States. 

“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

Someone who receives a vaccine is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the last required dose, the CDC says. So far, more than 30,000 Americans, or 9.2% of the population, have received all doses. 

The CDC notes that, while Covid-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness, scientists are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of the coronavirus. 

Research is also ongoing as to how effective Covid-19 vaccines are against variants of the virus. “Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others,” the CDC says in its guidance. 

Given the international origins of several virus variants, Walensky noted that the CDC is not updating its travel guidance. 

“We know that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot,” Walensky said. “We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time.” 

Still, Monday’s guidelines offer a glimpse of normalcy, as the third vaccine approval allows for quicker distribution. 

“We’ve been through a lot this past year,” Walensky said, “and with more and more people getting vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner,” Walensky said.

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