The CDC Just Released New Mask Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People
People who are fully vaccinated can go without a few public health measures that we’ve become accustomed to, the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask guidelines say. In particular, those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks or engage in social distancing, the guidelines say, but those measures are still necessary for a few key situations.
Those who’ve waited at least two weeks after receiving the final dose of their COVID-19 vaccine can now resume most activities without masks or social distancing, according to the new recommendations. That includes outdoor activities (such as attending events with friends at a park or outdoor dining) and indoor activities (including eating indoors at a restaurant, going to a movie theater, or attending a workout class). Fully vaccinated people can attend crowded events, as well, including outdoor sporting events and indoor religious services.
However, it’s important to remember that these guidelines do not overrule local mask or social distancing requirements that individual areas of the country may have in place, the CDC says. And everyone is still required to wear a mask when traveling by plane, bus, train, or any other mode of public transit or when at transportation hubs, such as airports or train stations. The new guidelines also do not apply to health care settings (like hospitals, doctor offices, and long-term care facilities), where everyone must still wear masks.
And the CDC guidelines for unvaccinated people have not changed. They are still required to wear masks and stay at least six feet away from others in most circumstances, but they can go outside with members of their household or gather with family and friends who are fully vaccinated outdoors without masks.
This represents a major change in the CDC’s guidance, but experts say it’s the right choice—and a choice based on science. “This is real, and it’s correct, and it’s good,” Ashish K. Jha, M.D., MPH, dean of the Brown University of Public Health, said on Twitter. “The science on this is pretty clear. Vaccinated people rarely get sick and don’t do much transmitting.”
There are now three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S., and all of them can significantly reduce the chances that someone will get sick, be hospitalized, and die after coming into contact with the coronavirus. There is also research to suggest that the vaccines greatly reduce the chances that someone will spread the virus if they do get COVID-19.
“I’m ecstatic about this news! It’s evidence-based and it’s bold. I hope that the updated guidelines incentivize more people to get vaccinated,” Uché Blackstock, M.D., emergency medicine physician and founder of Advancing Health Equity, said on Twitter.
This new change in the CDC mask guidelines reflects our ongoing understanding of this virus—and the federal government’s new push in the U.S. to make it more enticing to get the vaccines. At this point, just over 45% of adults in the country are fully vaccinated and 58.7% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC data. But President Biden announced last week that his new goal for the country is to get at least 70% of adults in the country to have one dose by the Fourth of July. Getting to return to more of our prepandemic behaviors may be another way to entice those who are on the fence.
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