Vaccinated individuals see some relaxed restrictions, but precautions still apply

The CDC has issued its first set of interim public health recommendations for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, giving vaccinated people the go-ahead to relax a few restrictions — but only among other vaccinated people or those who are at low risk for severe disease.

This new guidance, which applies to people who are two weeks out from their final vaccine dose, was announced during the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Monday.

“Like you, I want to be able to return to everyday activities and engage with our friends, families, and communities,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said at the briefing. “…Today’s action represents an important first step. It is not our final destination.”

According to the interim recommendations, individuals who have been fully vaccinated can resume the following activities:

  • “Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • “Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe Covid-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • “Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.”

However, the CDC stressed, this does not mean that vaccinated individuals can throw caution to the wind. The guidance includes recommendations that those who are vaccinated should:

  • “Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
  • “Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe Covid-19 disease.
  • “Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • “Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
  • “Get tested if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.
  • “Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • “Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.”

In addition, the CDC noted that there is still little data on whether the currently authorized Covid-19 vaccines are effective against variants of the virus, how well the vaccines keep people from spreading the virus, and how long vaccine protection will last.

“Until we know more about those questions, everyone — even people who’ve had their vaccines — should continue taking basic prevention steps when recommended,” the CDC wrote.

These guidelines follow less than a week after Texas and Mississippi lifted Covid-19 restrictions, tossing out mask mandates and allowing businesses to resume running at 100% capacity, a move that President Biden referred to as “Neanderthal thinking” and that Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the President, and other public health officials called ill-advised.

“Every single day that goes by, every week, we get more and more people vaccinated,” Fauci said in an interview on CNN’s “OutFront.” “So now is not the time to pull back. Now’s the time to really crush this by doing both public health measures and accelerating the vaccinations like we’re doing.”

“We continue to have high levels of virus around the country, and more readily transmissible variants have now been confirmed in nearly every state, while we work to quickly vaccinate people more and more each day, we have to see this through,” Walensky said on Monday. “Let’s stick together. Please keep wearing a well-fitting mask and taking the other public health actions we know work to help stop the spread of this virus.”

John McKenna, Associate Editor, BreakingMED™

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