If it has been at least two weeks since you’ve gotten your final COVID-19 vaccination and your children, grandchildren or friends are at low risk for a severe case of coronavirus, you should feel free to visit with those living in a single household without wearing a mask or needing to stay 6 feet apart, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday.
Guidelines for the fully vaccinated:
- It’s OK to visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
- It’s OK to visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
- It’s not necessary to quarantine or get tested following exposure to someone infected with the coronavirus as long as you don’t develop symptoms.
You can also feel free to visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without masking or social distancing, new CDC recommendations say. The agency also says that people who have been fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine or get tested after coming in contact with someone who has COVID-19 as long as they do not exhibit symptoms.
According to the CDC, someone is considered “fully vaccinated” if it has been at least two weeks since they’ve gotten the second dose of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As of March 7, the CDC reports that 90 million Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, with nearly 31 million people having received two doses. Of those receiving at least one dose, 55 percent are age 65 or older; 51 percent of those fully vaccinated are 65 or older.
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“The recommendations issued today are just a first step,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a coronavirus briefing. “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 with 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.”
Walensky also said that someone who is not vaccinated is considered at low risk for severe COVID-19 if they are younger than 65 and don’t have an underlying condition such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes — all of which could increase their risk for hospitalization or death.
The CDC has not changed its guidance when it comes to travel, Walensky said, meaning that people should avoid nonessential travel. “We would like to give the opportunity for grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren who are healthy and who are local,” she said.
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The agency is also asking people who are fully vaccinated to continue many of the COVID-19 precautions that have been in place during most of the pandemic. When fully vaccinated people are visiting unvaccinated people from more than one household and are around people who are at high risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19, CDC asks that they:
- Wear a well-fitted mask.
- Stay at least 6 feet from people they do not live with.
- Avoid large and medium-sized in-person gatherings.
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.
Dena Bunis covers Medicare, health care, health policy and Congress. She also writes the “Medicare Made Easy” column for the AARP Bulletin. An award-winning journalist, Bunis spent decades working for metropolitan daily newspapers, including as Washington bureau chief for The Orange County Register and as a health policy and workplace writer for Newsday.