The CDC Just Gave Unvaccinated People Permission to Do This
The agency just released guidelines that allow some freedom to those not yet vaccinated.
The majority of people across the U.S. are still not eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, and President Joe Biden recently said that it won't be until the end of May that there will be enough supply to inoculate every American. If you haven't yet gotten the shot, you might feel more restricted than ever. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released updated guidelines for what people can do once fully vaccinated, and they include one major update for unvaccinated people. Read on to find out what the new guidelines mean for you, and for more vaccination guidance, The CDC Says Don't Do This Within 2 Weeks of Your COVID Vaccine.
Unvaccinated people who aren't at risk for severe COVID can gather unmasked with vaccinated people.
During a March 8 White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, announced updated guidelines from the CDC on what fully vaccinated people can do now. In doing so, she also described a "more complicated scenario" that allows a little leeway for those who have not yet been vaccinated.
"The 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," Walensky said. "Here's 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." And for more loosened restrictions, The CDC Says You Don't Have to Do This Anymore Once You're Vaccinated.
Vaccinated people still have to wear masks when they're around unvaccinated people at risk for severe COVID.
Restrictions should still be in place if you want to visit someone who is at high risk for severe COVID and not yet vaccinated, even if you yourself are vaccinated. "If an unvaccinated individual or any unvaccinated member of their household are at high risk for severe disease, everyone—regardless of vaccination status—should still wear a mask and physically distance. And choose to meet outdoors or in a well-ventilated space," Walensky said. "This is recommended to keep the individuals at high risk, who are unvaccinated, safe." And for more mask advice, If You're Layering These Masks, the CDC Says to Stop Immediately.
There is a small risk that vaccinated people can transmit COVID to those who are not yet vaccinated.
The COVID vaccine is highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death from the virus, but there is still a small chance that fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus to those who are unvaccinated—which is why the CDC has included this stipulation for those high-risk individuals, Walensky explained. "There is still a small risk that vaccinated people could become infected with milder or asymptomatic disease and potentially even transmit the virus to others who are not vaccinated," she noted. According to Walensky, this is still an "ongoing area of research." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
There are several factors that put someone at high risk for severe COVID.
There are several factors that put someone at high risk for severe illness from COVID, according to the CDC. High-risk individuals are those who are older than 65, pregnant, or have one or more underlying medical conditions that put them at increased risk. According to the CDC, adults of any age are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID if they have cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, obesity, sickle cell disease, type 2 diabetes, various heart conditions, smoke, or are immunocompromised.
"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," Walensky said during the briefing. And for more news on severe coronavirus, This Common Medication Could Save You From Severe COVID, New Study Says.
The CDC director said this guidance will be updated as we learn more.
As we've seen over the last year, our knowledge surrounding the coronavirus has changed and progressed over time. Walensky said that this will happen with the COVID vaccine as well, meaning these guidelines are likely to change over time. "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," she said. "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." And for more vaccine news, The Pfizer CEO Says This Is How Often You'll Need a COVID Vaccine.