CDC: Fully vaccinated people don't need to quarantine after COVID exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance that people who have been fully vaccinated for the coronavirus no longer need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who is infected with COVID-19.

“Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19,” the CDC said in the updated guidance Wednesday.

“Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria.”

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The criteria include having had both shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — the two shots that are available to the U.S. public at the moment — and that at least two weeks have gone by since the second dose was administered. Studies have shown that full immunity is not built up until a couple of weeks after finishing the vaccine regimen.

The CDC said that people should also quarantine if more than three months have passed since they received the second shot and they are exposed to the virus, given it is unclear how long protections last. People should also quarantine if they experience coronavirus symptoms. 

“This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity, which eases implementation,” the CDC said.

The agency maintained that vaccinated people should continue following all other health guidance, including wearing a mask and social distancing when possible. Studies have shown that those who have been inoculated could still hold the virus in their noses and throats and transmit it to those around them.

"At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing," the guidance said. 

The new guidance comes as vaccine production offers a glimmer of hope for the end of the pandemic.

The rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna shots has ramped up, with possibly more injections getting the green light in the coming weeks.

However, cases and deaths remain high. There were more than 95,000 new cases in the U.S. on Wednesday, and 3,445 people died Tuesday alone, according to the COVID Tracking Project’s most recent figures.