Fully-vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recommendations from federal health officials also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.
The guidance announced Monday is aimed at addressing a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.
“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, in a statement.
However, the CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.
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“There are some activities that fully vaccinated people can begin to resume now in the privacy of their own homes,” Walensky said. “Everyone – even those who are vaccinated – should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings. As the science evolves and more people get vaccinated, we will continue to provide more guidance to help fully vaccinated people safely resume more activities.”
Three vaccines are currently in use across the country. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech‘s vaccines require two doses each, three and four weeks apart respectively.
The third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, only requires one dose.
Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020, more than 90 million doses have been administered, reaching 17.7% of the total U.S. population, according to CDC data.
Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 30 million Americans — or only about 9% of the U.S. population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC. More than half of people 65 and older have received at least one shot, according to Andy Slavitt, a senior administration adviser on the pandemic.
The CDC says it will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, rates of COVID-19 in the community change, and as additional science and evidence become available.