The CDC released its first guidelines for vaccinated people on Monday, providing recommendations for how those who have been fully vaccinated can begin to socialize. The highly-anticipated guide addressed several instances of safe and unsafe behavior for vaccinated individuals, including indoor gatherings, mask-wearing, and even grandparents hugging their grandkids. Here is everything you need to know.
What Do the New Guidelines Allow?
Gathering indoors with other households has long been deemed a major risk by the CDC, but according to the new guidelines, vaccinated people can now safely be indoors with other fully vaccinated people without needing to wear masks or social distance. Vaccinated people can even be indoors with people “from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19” without needing to wear masks or social distance.
Vaccinated people also do not need to quarantine or get tested if they are exposed to someone who has COVID, as long as they remain asymptomatic. The guidelines also say that vaccinated grandparents can once again hug their unvaccinated children and grandchildren without wearing a mask, so long as nobody is at risk of severe COVID.
What Do the New Guidelines Not Allow?
The CDC wants people to know that being vaccinated does not mean that you are completely free from any safety guidelines. While gathering indoors with other vaccinated individuals or a single household of unvaccinated people was given the green light, you still should not congregate indoors with multiple unvaccinated households.
The CDC has also said that vaccinated people should continue to adhere to public safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and social distancing, when they go out in public.
What Does Fully Vaccinated Actually Mean?
The guidelines also make it clear that you are not fully vaccinated once you have received your second dosage. The CDC says that people should wait a full two weeks after receiving their second vaccine shot (or first for Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine) before considering themselves vaccinated.
And unvaccinated people should get tested if they have symptoms of COVID and should still avoid medium-to-large-sized gatherings.
Are These Guidelines Really Safe to Follow?
Of course, if you are vaccinated, you still may wonder if these guidelines from the CDC are actually safe to follow. One of the biggest concerns has been the new variant strains of COVID that have emerged over the last few months, which caused the CDC to delay these guidelines a week.
These guidelines are not perfect, with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledging during her White House Briefing that the guidelines could change as conditions change and science develops. But for now, they do seem to provide a safe path forward for vaccinated people to not put themselves or others at risk.
Others — like Dr. Monica Gandhi — have said that the guidelines are actually overly cautious, but a good start. And if it’s hard to imagine that being vaccinated could allow people to have so much more freedom after a year of struggling and social isolation in COVID-19, enjoy imagining it. It is really real.