Story at a glance
- As more Americans are vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its public health guidelines and recommendations.
- Scientists still don’t know how effective the vaccines will be against various strains of COVID-19 or how long inoculation lasts.
- Still, many states and localities are moving ahead with reopening the economy.
One year after COVID-19 changed the way Americans worked, learned and lived, almost 1 in 10 people have been vaccinated against the disease that has killed more than 500,000 nationwide.
BREAKING NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
But the United States is still a long way from herd immunity, the point at which enough people are protected against a disease that it cannot spread, and it will be months until there are enough vaccines for every adult. Even then, there is still a lot unknown about the effectiveness of the vaccine, including whether it will stand up to new variants appearing in different states or how long the inoculation will last.
It’s not the end, but perhaps it’s getting closer. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans not in health care settings, the first sign of a potential end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks or physical distancing with other fully vaccinated people and perhaps even with unvaccinated people from a single household, if they are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease. They can also breathe a little easier after being exposed to COVID-19, without need for quarantine or testing if they are asymptomatic.
"The level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against COVID-19," says the CDC website.
Still, the CDC asks vaccinated people to continue wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and other prevention measures in public and when interacting with unvaccinated people from multiple households and those at higher risk. Domestic and international travel are still discouraged, as are medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW