Fully-vaccinated people can gather without masks, says CDC

People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can gather indoors unmasked with others who have been vaccinated, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance Monday.

Those who are fully vaccinated can also visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without masks or distancing so long as the unvaccinated people are not at high risk for severe Covid-19, added CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

Fully-vaccinated people who come into contact with someone who has Covid-19 also won’t need to take a test or quarantine unless they show symptoms — unless they live in a congregate setting like a nursing home or correctional facility.

The recommendations came as US states were moving to reopen schools and businesses amid a drop in cases.

Some 59 million Americans have now received one or more vaccine doses — about 23 percent of the adult population — and the immunization rate has been steadily rising after a shaky start.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine like Johnson & Johnson’s.

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While the new guidance will come as welcome news, particularly for the elderly who are now free to visit with their healthy children and grandchildren, many restrictions have not changed.

The CDC continues to recommend that fully-vaccinated people wear masks and maintain social distancing in public, or in indoor gatherings involving people from more than one household.

And the new guidance does not apply to meetings with people who have underlying conditions that place them at higher risk for severe Covid.

The health agency also continues to recommend against attending larger gatherings and advises against domestic or foreign travel.

Scientists are now very confident that authorized Covid vaccines protect people against severe disease and death.

There is also growing evidence that they stop infections — though probably not at the same rate as they stop disease — but more research is needed to get a firmer idea.