CDC says fully-vaccinated may gather without masks, visit family

The new US guidelines open the door to a return to normal, but say masks should still be worn in certain circumstances.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, President Joe Biden's appointee to run the CDC, removes her mask to speak as Biden announces nominees and appointees to serve on his health and coronavirus response teams during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware on December 8, 2020 [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Fully vaccinated people in the United States may gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in guidelines released on Monday.

“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

The guidelines say fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic

The guidelines also say fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household where there is no high risk of COVID-19.

“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 guidelines say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia on September 30, 2014 [File: Tami Chappell/Reuters]

However, fully vaccinated people should continue to “wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households”, as well as avoid “medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings”, the CDC says.

The release is an attempt to answer growing questions about what it means to be fully vaccinated, as adults grow tired of more than a year of social distancing, and in some cases, isolation from friends and family.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC says about 9 percent of the US population, or roughly 30 million people, have been fully vaccinated.

As vaccines become more widely available, some states are easing restrictions, against the recommendation of health officials.

Texas and Mississippi have lifted mask mandates and opened 100 percent, though officials worry virus variants resulting from mutations could cause another outbreak.

The US leads the world in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths.

More than 525,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US, which has seen more than 29,000,000 confirmed infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Source: Al Jazeera