The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released new guidelines for individuals that are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An individual is considered “fully vaccinated” once two weeks have passed since the final dose was received.
Vaccinated Americans should continue to wear a face mask most of the time. However, they can gather in small groups, under some circumstances.
The CDC guidelines are ambiguous, to say the least, and vary depending on your news source.
“The level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against COVID-19,” said the CDC.
As far as I can tell, vaccinated individuals can visit other vaccinated individuals indoors without masks and without social distancing.
Vaccinated individuals can also visit unvaccinated individuals from one household without masks if those individuals are not at high risk. This means vaccinated grandparents can visit family members.
Fully vaccinated people are not required to get tested if they are exposed to a confirmed case. However, they are encouraged to get tested if they experience symptoms. Vaccinated individuals living in a group home or other congregate setting should quarantine for 14 days if exposed and get tested if they develop symptoms.
Vaccinated individuals are encouraged to avoid large gatherings and travel. Scientists aren’t 100% sure whether vaccinated individuals can spread the disease.
“While the new guidance is a positive step, many more people need to be fully vaccinated before everyone can stop taking most COVID-19 precautions,” warns CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “It is important that, until then, everyone continues to adhere to important mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who remain unvaccinated.”
The new guidelines make no mention of the safety of visiting bars and restaurants. They also fail to address individuals who may have gained some degree of immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection.
“We continue to have high levels of virus around the country, and more readily transmissible variants have now been confirmed in nearly every state, while we work to quickly vaccinate people more and more each day, we have to see this through,” says Walensky. “Let’s stick together. Please keep wearing a well-fitting mask and taking the other public health actions we know work to help stop the spread of this virus.”
The CDC’s guidelines are “far too cautious,” argues Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University. “The CDC is missing a major opportunity to tie vaccination status with reopening guidance, they are missing the window to influence state and national policy.”
The US averaged more than 60,000 new cases per day over the past week. But numbers are expected to drop as more people receive the vaccine. To date, roughly 10% of Americans are fully vaccinated. Up to 2 million people are receiving the vaccine each day.
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