The light at the tunnel is near! Due to the increase in vaccinations in the United States, the CDC has issued updated guidance regarding “fully vaccinated” individuals. For purposes of the guidance, an individual is considered fully vaccinated two or more weeks after receiving the second shot of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two or more weeks after receiving one shot of a one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).
The CDC guidance eases up some restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals. For example, the guidance specifically states that fully vaccinated individuals can:
- 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 guidance also advises that, for now, fully vaccinated individuals should continue to take precautions in public and other group settings with non-vaccinated individuals. For example, the guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals should continue to:
- Wear masks and physical distance in public, when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19, or when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid medium and large 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
Although the CDC guidance removes some restrictions for fully vaccinated employees, the restrictions that remain in place make clear that employers should continue to enforce its workplace COVID-19 protocols for all employees, such as requiring masks, physical distancing, and prohibiting large gatherings in the workplace. This is also in line with OSHA’s January 29 guidance, which stresses the importance of wearing masks and maintaining physical distance even if employees have been vaccinated.
The CDC has stated that it will update its guidance based upon the spread of COVID-19, including new variants, the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated, and the science on COVID-19 vaccines.