New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely visit with other vaccinated people.
– CDC is releasing its initial guidance for the public that, for the first time, lays out some of the activities considered safe for those who are fully vaccinated. When I say fully vaccinated, I mean people who are two weeks after their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Before I talk about the specific recommendations, I want to underscore few important points. First, robust clinical trial data demonstrate that the current COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19. However, there is still a small risk that vaccinated people could become infected with mild or asymptomatic disease and potentially even transmit the virus to others who are not vaccinated. Understanding the size of this risk in vaccinated people and the risk of transmitting the virus to others who are not vaccinated is an ongoing area of research.
Second, it’s important to note that this is initial guidance. The science of COVID-19 is complex, and our understanding of the virus continues to rapidly evolve. The recommendations issued today are just a first step. As more people get vaccinated and the science and evidence expands and as the disease dynamics of this country change, we will continue to update this guidance.
Importantly, our guidance must balance the risk to people who have been fully vaccinated, the risks to those who have not yet received the vaccine, and the impact on the larger community transmission of COVID-19 with what we all recognize to be the overall benefits of resuming everyday activities and getting back to some of the things we love in life. It’s against this backdrop and the current state of the pandemic that we have developed these new recommendations.
With today’s initial guidance, it’s important to note that we are focusing on activities fully vaccinated people can resume in private settings such as their homes under two scenarios. The first scenario is fully vaccinated people visiting with other fully vaccinated people. In this slide, these individuals are represented by solid green circles. In this scenario, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people in small gatherings indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
Remember here, we are talking about private settings where everyone is vaccinated. So what does this mean? If you and a friend or you and a family member are both vaccinated, you can have dinner together, wearing masks, without distancing. You can visit your grandparents if you have been vaccinated and they have been too.
Now I want to talk to you about another more complicated scenario. It involves vaccinated people visiting with unvaccinated people. When fully vaccinated people visit with unvaccinated people, we have to consider the underlying risks of the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated members of their household. We take this approach because all of our guidance is rooted in making sure we are keeping people safe.
So CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from one other household, indoors, without wearing masks or physical distancing as long as the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated members of their household are not at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease. In the slide, people who are vaccinated and at low risk for severe COVID-19 are indicated by solid orange circles. This means that none of the unvaccinated people or any unvaccinated members of their households, for example, are an adult over age 65 or have an underlying condition such as cancer or heart disease or diabetes that could increase their risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death.
Here is an example. If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family even if they have not been vaccinated so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease. They are solid orange circles. Second, if an unvaccinated individual or any unvaccinated member of their household are at high risk for severe disease, shown here by hollow orange circles, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should still wear a mask and physically distance and choose to meet outdoors or in a well-ventilated space. This is recommended to keep the individuals at high risk who are unvaccinated safe. Similarly, when fully vaccinated people are visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households, everyone should wear masks and physically distance and meet outdoors in a well-ventilated space.
Moving on to quarantine, away from visiting. In addition to these new recommendations on visitation in private settings, CDC’s new guidance also recommends that fully vaccinated people do not need quarantine or get tested following a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 as long as they are asymptomatic. At this time, the CDC is not adjusting current guidance on travel. We believe these new recommendations are an important first step in our efforts to resume everyday activities in our communities.
However, we remain in the midst of a serious pandemic. And still, over 90% of our population is not fully vaccinated, though we are working hard to get there. Therefore, everyone, whether vaccinated or not, should continue to avoid medium and large-sized gatherings as well as nonessential travel and when in public spaces, should continue to we a well-fitted mask, physically distance, and follow other public health measures to protect themselves and others.