Fully Vaccinated? You Can Go Maskless In Most Indoor and Outdoor Settings, CDC Says
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control.
It’s time to let your hair — err, masks — down.
Public health officials said Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated can ditch masks and physical distancing during most indoor and outdoor activities, no matter the size of a surrounding crowd. People are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving their second of a two-dose vaccine or the only jab of a single-dose vaccine.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, said during a press conference Thursday.
The new CDC guidance does not apply when people are traveling on airplanes or public transit, like trains and buses, in health care settings, like hospitals or nursing homes, or correctional facilities. Dr. Walensky also cautioned those who are immunocompromised to consult their doctors before they go maskless in indoor and outdoor settings. Dr. Walensky also advised those who, in rare occurrences after full vaccination, develop symptoms to put their masks back on and get tested.
The CDC said people should continue to follow existing state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding mask wearing, including at private businesses and in the workplace.
The CDC was criticized for moving too slowly and presenting overly cautious, even misleading, messaging when it updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people in April. When asked if Thursday’s announcement was motivated by criticisms leveled at the public health agency, Dr. Walensky said the updated guidance was informed by factors like new science on the real-world effectiveness of vaccines against the dominant virus variants in the U.S., as well as the recent expansion of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine eligibility to everyone 12 years and older.
Dr. Walensky cited declines in the seven-day averages of new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions, and deaths in the U.S.
According to the CDC, more than 35% of Americans have been fully vaccinated and more than 46% have been partially vaccinated. President Biden has set a goal that about 70% of U.S. adults will receive at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4, and at least 160 million will be fully vaccinated by then, too.
“The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people,” Dr. Walensky said. “You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or of spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away.”