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Fully Vaccinated: Can We Lose the Masks Now? A Practical Guide

Talk of the “new normal” has replaced discussing the weather nowadays. It’s become almost second nature to wonder where we are and where we’re heading in our collective COVID-19 journey. And while we all can recognize that we are indeed living in a new normal, it can be difficult to keep up with the everyday changes to that new normal. We’re hoping to provide some clarity, so we broke down the facts of the current CDC guidelines for those fully vaccinated.

The following recommendations were provided by the CDC and apply to non-healthcare settings.

The rise of COVID-19 vaccines

With Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines authorized for emergency use and more vaccines on their way to FDA for review, we’ve made a lot of progress in our vaccination journey. This is something to celebrate as we know the currently authorized vaccines are incredibly effective at protecting people against death from COVID-19, as well as symptomatic and severe COVID-19. On top of that, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests fully vaccinated people are not only less likely to have asymptomatic COVID-19, but are also less likely to transmit COVID-19 all together!

While there are still many things we don’t know yet, we have reached a point where our usual prevention strategies can be altered – but only for those who are fully vaccinated. At this time, these new guidelines do not pertain to non-vaccinated individuals. Please continue to practice all preventive steps as recommended by the CDC.

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

You are considered fully vaccinated if…

  1. It’s been two weeks from finishing any two dose COVID-19 vaccine, like Pfizer or Moderna OR
  2. It’s been two weeks after your first and only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

New guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

  1. In private settings, you can be around other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask.
  2. In private settings, you can be around unvaccinated people from one other household, indoors and without masks, unless any of the people in that household are at-risk for severe COVID-19 or live with someone who is at-risk for severe COVID-19.
  3. If you have been around someone with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you have symptoms. This does not apply if you live in a group setting, such as a correctional or detention facility or a group home. In this case, you should still quarantine and get tested, even if you are not presenting symptoms.

Continuing guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

  1. You should still practice mitigation strategies in public, around unvaccinated people from multiple households and when visiting an unvaccinated person who is at-risk for severe COVID-19, in order to protect yourself and those around you. These strategies include:
    • Mask wearing
    • Social distancing (6 feet apart; 8 to 10 feet is better)
    • Hand hygiene
    • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  2. You should still avoid medium to large-sized gatherings.
  3. You should delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated. Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19.
  4. You should still watch for COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you’ve been exposed.
    • If you do have symptoms, you should be tested and isolate from others.
  5. You will still need to follow your workplace safety guidelines.

If you think you may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, call your primary care doctor or the Ohio Department of Health call center. The call center is now open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer your COVID-19 questions, and can be reached at 1 (833) 4-ASK-ODH (1 (833) 427-5634).

The information in this article was updated on March 11, 2021. For the latest information concerning COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.

 

 

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