Fully vaccinated Americans do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new recommendation, released on Wednesday, exempts those who have received the full dose of one of the approved vaccines from having to self-isolate if they are exposed. Currently, that means two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine as well as a two-week wait for their immunity to kick-in.
Individuals must also remain asymptomatic since their exposure but should watch for symptoms for 14 days.
However, the CDC recommends Americans only take advantage of this guidance if they have received their vaccine within three months of being exposed because it remains unclear as to how long vaccine immunity lasts.
“Although the risk of [COVID-19] transmission from vaccinated persons to others is still uncertain, vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic COVID-19,” the agency wrote, noting “symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is thought to have a greater role in transmission” than asymptomatic cases.
“Additionally, individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission,” the agency added.
Vaccinated international travelers are also not exempt from quarantine or the CDC’s requirement to get tested before boarding a flight to the U.S. Vaccinated healthcare workers should also continue to quarantine, the agency advised.
But just because vaccinated Americans don’t have to quarantine, the vaccine doesn’t exempt them from following health protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing.
“At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or [COVID-19] testing,” the agency wrote.
The CDC also recommended double masking or opting for a tightly fitting mask on Wednesday, with findings showing that doing so can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by 95.6%.