The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has loosened guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people include those who have received two shots of Moderna’s or Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccines and have waited at least two weeks past completing their vaccine regimen. Also included are those who have been inoculated with Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine and have waited two weeks past completing their vaccine regimen.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance, fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. They can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household – such as when visiting relatives who all live together – without masks, unless any of those people, or anyone they live with, has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people who have been around someone who has COVID-19 do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless they have symptoms, according to the guidance. However, if they live in a group setting, such as a correctional or detention facility or group home, and are around someone who has COVID-19, they are advised to quarantine for 14 days and get tested, even if they don’t have symptoms of the disease.
“COVID tends to hit those (long-term care) facilities like a wildfire, so they want people to be extra careful when visiting folks who live in congregate care settings or who are seniors or who do have a higher risk of death or complications from COVID,” said Claire Haughton, public health educator for the Boone County Health Dept.
The CDC still recommends fully vaccinated people practice proper mitigation efforts in most situations, including in public, when gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household or when visiting an unvaccinated person who is at an increased risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19.
According to the guidance, fully vaccinated people should still avoid medium and large gatherings and consider delaying domestic and international travel. The CDC recommends everyone still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and continue to follow workplace guidance.
“It seems like more and more we are getting positive news,” Haughton said. “We are learning positive things, and I think this (guidance) is a positive indication that the vaccines are working.”
Haughton said the CDC has not issued additional guidance for those who have already had COVID-19 and recovered. She advises those people to continue social distancing, wear masks, avoid indoor spaces and wash their hands regularly.
As of March 8, 9,815 Boone County residents and 44,624 Hamilton County residents had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Indiana State Dept. of Health.
The CDC cautioned that even though the three available vaccines have proven effective, more information is needed to see how effective they are against new variants of the disease. It is also unknown whether fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread the disease. The CDC also reports it is unknown how long the vaccines are effective.