CDC says people fully vaccinated can gather without masks in some cases

Published 3:44 pm Thursday, March 11, 2021

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines Monday for people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying they can gather indoors without masks in some cases, but should keep their distance and wear masks in larger groups, and limit travel.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after getting a single-dose vaccine, like the one from Johnson & Johnson.

The guidance says those who have been fully vaccinated can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people, or with unvaccinated people from one other household, without wearing a mask or socially distancing — unless any of the people in that household has an increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19.

And while the guidance does not directly address whether it’s OK to hug each other in these limited circumstances, it implies that it’s allowed when it says “without wearing a mask or socially distancing.”

“For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit indoors with their unvaccinated healthy daughter and her healthy children without wearing masks or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19,” the CDC says.

It also says a fully vaccinated person does not need to quarantine if they have been around someone who has Covid-19, unless they have symptoms.

The guidance makes an exception for people who live in group settings, such as long-term care facilities or prisons, and says fully vaccinated people in these settings should quarantine for 14 days and get tested if they have been around someone with the virus, even if they don’t have symptoms.

What hasn’t changed?

The guidance says everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear a mask and socially distance in public, adding that it is still important to avoid medium- to large-sized crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

These measures are also recommended for fully vaccinated people who gather with more than one household or are visiting unvaccinated people who at increased risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19 — or live with someone who is at increased risk.

The guidance continues to discourage domestic and international travel, and encourages those who do to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.

The CDC says it is taking a cautious approach because many things about the virus and the vaccines that are not known.

For example, while the vaccines are effective at preventing Covid-19, especially severe illness and death, it is still not known how long the vaccines protect people, how effective they are against more contagious variants of the virus, or how much they keep people from spreading the disease.

“Early data show that the vaccines may help keep people from spreading Covid-19, but we are learning more as most people get vaccinated,” the CDC says.

President Biden said last week that there will be enough vaccine for every American adult who wants one by the end of May. As of March 7, 830,842

Kentuckians had received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, about 18.5% of the state’s population.