CDC: Vaccinated people can safely gather indoors without masks

New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest it is safe for fully vaccinated people to gather indoors with each other without masks.

The hotly anticipated guidance is limited, and only aimed at what people are safe to do in private.

“If you and a friend, or you and a family member are both vaccinated, you can have dinner together” without wearing masks or without distancing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Monday.

In addition, vaccinated people can visit with someone in a single household who is unvaccinated, without protections.

The CDC said Americans are “fully vaccinated” once two weeks have passed since they received the final dose of their vaccine regimen.

For vaccines developed by Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech group, that means the second of two shots. For the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it means two weeks after the only injection.

The CDC also recommends vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine or get tested if they come into contact with someone with COVID-19 and do not develop symptoms.

Walensky noted that only a small percentage of the public has been vaccinated, so precautions need to be taken in public or around people who are vulnerable to severe illness. 

“While the new guidance is a positive step, many more people need to be fully vaccinated before everyone can stop taking most COVID-19 precautions. It is important that, until then, everyone continues to adhere to important mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who remain unvaccinated,” Walensky said.

Public health officials have warned the public not to become complacent about COVID-19. Case numbers have been decreasing, but still remain extremely high even as states have begun to roll back restrictions, including mask mandates and capacity limits. 

Only about 9 percent of the public has been fully vaccinated, but that number is likely to rise quickly. The U.S. is administering about 2 million shots a day, and supplies will increase in the coming months. President Biden said that by the end of May, there will be enough shots for everyone in the country who wants one.

Walensky said there is a “small risk” that vaccinated people could become infected with milder or asymptomatic disease, and potentially transmit the virus to others who are not vaccinated.

Walensky also emphasized the agency’s travel recommendations have not changed, for both the vaccinated and for the unvaccinated.

“We would like to give the opportunity for vaccinated grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren who are healthy, and who are local, but our travel guidance currently has been unchanged,” Walensky said.

The guidelines still say that with high case numbers, the CDC recommends that people do not travel at this time.

“Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” Walensky said. 

— Updated at 12:55 p.m.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coroanvirus vaccine Coronavirus FDA Food and Drug Administration Joe Biden Rochelle Walensky
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