Written by Roni Caryn Rabin
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued long-awaited guidance to Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19, freeing them to take some liberties that the unvaccinated should not, including gathering indoors with others who are fully vaccinated without precautions while still adhering to masking and distancing in public spaces.
The agency said that fully vaccinated people may visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household so long as no one among the unvaccinated is at risk for severe disease if infected with the coronavirus.
That means fully vaccinated grandparents may visit unvaccinated healthy adult children and healthy grandchildren without masks or physical distancing. But the visit should be limited to one household: If the adult children’s unvaccinated neighbors drop by, the visit should move outdoors and everyone should wear masks and distance.
The agency did not rule out the possibility that fully vaccinated individuals might develop asymptomatic infections and spread the coronavirus inadvertently to others, and urged those who are vaccinated to continue practicing certain precautions.
Agency officials encouraged people to get vaccinated with the first vaccine available to them, to help bring the pandemic to a close and resume normal life. The agency emphasized that vaccines are highly effective at preventing “serious COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death,” and said its guidance “represents a first step toward returning to everyday activities in or communities.”
Many more Americans will need to be fully vaccinated before mitigation measures can be suspended, officials said, as the majority of Americans have yet to get the vaccine.
As of Sunday, about 58.9 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about 30.7 million people who have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Providers are administering about 2.16 million doses per day on average.
The CDC said Monday that “a growing body of evidence” suggests that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to have asymptomatic infections and “potentially less likely to transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people.” Still, the agency did not rule out the possibility that they could inadvertently transmit the virus.
The agency is continuing to advise that all Americans refrain from travel unless necessary.