The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance for people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus on Sunday, saying that it is now okay for fully vaccinated people to get together with others who have also been vaccinated without a mask and also with unvaccinated people if they are at low risk for the virus.
“If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask,” the guidance reads.
Furthermore, it says, “You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with 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.”
The guidance is a departure from previous guidance, which still advised vaccinated people to wear masks and social distance in all situations.
Groups vs. individual gatherings
The other major change in guidance is that fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine or test for the coronavirus if they don’t have symptoms, unless they live in a group home or detention center.
Guidelines still recommend wearing masks and social distancing in public, even if others present have been vaccinated, and avoiding medium and large gatherings and travel altogether.
The vaccines currently available reduce people’s chances of getting the coronavirus as much as 94%, and they reduce the risk of severe disease nearly 100%.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting their last dose of vaccine.
Caution still recommended
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that most people have not yet been vaccinated, which is why precautions are still recommended in many cases.
“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. It is important that, until then, everyone continues to adhere to important mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who remain unvaccinated,” Walensky said.
Studies from Israel, where most adults have already been vaccinated and restrictions loosened, have shown that widespread vaccination reduced the death rate from COVID there by 98.5%, suggesting that further loosening of restrictions may be warranted when more people get vaccinated.
Transmission was also reduced 75 to 90% by those who were fully vaccinated, and even one dose of the (Pfizer) vaccine was 85% effective in the studies.