The CDC has provided new guidance for fully vaccinated people.
Are you fully vaccinated?
The first thing is to make sure that you are fully vaccinated. That means you have had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Two weeks after your last dose of the vaccine, you are fully vaccinated.
The vaccines offer a very high rate of protection. By now, there have been a number of real-world studies showing that these vaccines provide 95% or more protection against catching the virus at all, and 100% protection against serious disease.
Many of our vaccines have been around since the 20th century and we have enormous amounts of data about them. The COVID-19 vaccines are newer and we don’t know everything about them. For example, we don’t know for sure how long the vaccines will last or whether a fully vaccinated person could spread the virus. However, we know that a fully vaccinated person has a high rate of protection and can follow different rules from unvaccinated people.
Do fully vaccinated people still need masks?
Based on themes recent data, he Centers for Disease Control have determined that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most situations.
For many fully vaccinated people, especially as the numbers increase, you can get back together with neighbors and social groups, hold small family gatherings, and spend time outdoors without masks or social distancing.
Still, it makes sense to carry a mask. Businesses can still require masks and there are some situations — such as bus or plane travel — in which masks are still recommended.
Can you travel?
Travel restrictions are relaxed for fully vaccinated people. If you are traveling in the United States, you are no longer required to be tested before travel or to quarantine afterward.
Leaving the United States? You still have to follow the rules of your destination, but in many cases, fully vaccinated people can skip testing and quarantine. However, testing is still required when you return to the United States.
Masks are still required for most public transportation, including airplanes, trains, and buses, plus airports and stations. You should continue to observe social distancing while you travel and wash your hands frequently.
The CDC still recommends that unvaccinated people postpone international travel till they are fully vaccinated.
Do you have to quarantine?
Fully vaccinated workers no longer have to quarantine after exposure as long as they have no symptoms. This is true in general, but there might be specific situations in which you will be required to quarantine after exposure.
Avoid large gatherings
It’s not time yet to get back to face-to-face conferences or other large indoor gatherings. Whether you are fully vaccinated or not, you should avoid crowds indoors or out.
You should avoid large outdoor gatherings where people are closer than 6 feet apart, especially if participants are singing, dancing, shouting, or otherwise more likely to spread droplets. Indoor choir practice should be limited to fully vaccinated people and requires masks and social distancing. 30 minutes is the longest time a practice should last.
The same thing is true for crowds cheering on their teams — that shouting increases the amount of droplets in the air. A gym class with lots of heavy breathing is another example. Think about the distance between people, the quality of ventilation, the time spent together, and the activities taking place…as well as how many people are fully vaccinated.
At this point, only about 30% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
However, every American 16 and over can now get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are in Northwest Arkansas, to schedule an appointment to get your vaccine, call your MANA doctor’s office or (479) 571-6588 and select a MANA clinic near you.