Some 31 million Americans who’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can embark on a careful return to normalcy, according to new guidelines released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.
“With more and more people getting vaccinated, each day we are starting to turn a corner,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “A growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can do at low risk to themselves.”
Gathering inside without masks with other fully vaccinated people is one example. According to new guidance released by the CDC on Monday, that can happen two weeks after people have received their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to three COVID-19 vaccine candidates: Moderna MRNA, -6.60%, Pfizer PFE, -0.12% /BioNTech BNTX, -6.14% and Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.83%.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses to build up at least 94% protection from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose to build up at least 84% protection from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
No matter which vaccine an individual receives, they are only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they’ve received their final dose.
At which point, you don’t need to get tested for COVID-19 as long as you aren’t experiencing symptoms of the virus, even if you were exposed to someone who contracted it, said Walensky. Fully vaccinated people also aren’t required to quarantine.
Is it safe for vaccinated people socialize with unvaccinated people?
“There is still a small risk that vaccinated people could become infected with milder or asymptomatic disease, and potentially even transmit the virus to others who are not vaccinated,” Walensky said on Monday.
That’s why the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people refrain from gathering with unvaccinated people who are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. But for individuals who aren’t at an increased risk, the CDC announced that it is safe to gather indoors with people from one other household without masks or following social distancing protocol.
Is it safe to travel again?
The CDC is still urging everyone — vaccinated or not — to avoid non-essential travel.
While one infectious disease doctor previously told MarketWatch he’d consider taking a cruise trip with other fully vaccinated people who’ve tested negative for COVID-19, there is still an increased risk of spreading the virus to unvaccinated people.