CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Socialize Indoors, Unmasked

Vaccinated and unvaccinated individual households can also gather safely, as long as no one is at high risk for severe Covid-19

Photo: Education Images/Getty Images

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released highly anticipated, more lenient guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19.

In a statement during a White House press briefing Monday morning, CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said that fully vaccinated people can safely gather indoors in private settings without masks with other fully vaccinated people, although the gatherings should remain small. In other words, the CDC has finally given the green light for fully vaccinated people from different households to have dinner together inside the home. Their definition of “fully vaccinated” is anyone who is two weeks post second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks post single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Although that guideline was expected, the CDC had a pleasant surprise to reveal: The agency also announced that one household of fully vaccinated people can socialize indoors with one household of unvaccinated people, as long as no one in the unvaccinated household is at high risk for severe disease.

This means that if your elderly parents have been vaccinated but you haven’t been and if you and the rest of your household are low risk, you can now go see your parents and even give them a hug. If anyone in the unvaccinated household is high risk, then prevention measures like masks, ventilation, and distancing should still be maintained.

“As more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can resume at low risk to themselves,” Walensky said. “This is why today, 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.”

Walensky continued that the guidelines attempt to balance the potential risks of vaccinated people becoming infected or transmitting the virus to others with the benefits of reducing social isolation and resuming some everyday activities.

Fully vaccinated people also do not need to quarantine or get tested if they have no symptoms after exposure to someone with Covid-19. Other precautions remain in place, though, and the CDC still urges vaccinated people to avoid medium to large gatherings and unnecessary travel, and in public settings they should continue to wear a mask and physically distance.

The new guidelines come as the U.S. vaccine rollout is speeding up, with more than 2 million doses being delivered each day. As of Monday, 59 million across the country have received at least one vaccine dose, and 31 million people are fully vaccinated — about 9.2% of the population. However, roughly 59,000 people are still testing positive for the coronavirus every day, and the seven-day average death toll is just under 2,000 people per day.

“We believe these new recommendations are an important first step in our efforts to resume everyday activities in our communities,” Walensky said. “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.”

Health and science writer • PhD in 🧠 • Words in Scientific American, STAT, The Atlantic, The Guardian • Award-winning Covid-19 coverage for Elemental

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