Coronavirus: CDC releases guidance for vaccinated Americans

WASHINGTON — Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Monday for Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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“With today’s initial guidance, it’s important to note that we are focusing on (the) activities ... fully vaccinated people can resume in private settings, such as their homes,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, said during a news briefing with the White House COVID-19 Response Team. The CDC defines people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as those who have gotten their final vaccine doses at least two weeks ago.

Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people “in small gatherings indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing,” Walensky said.

“So what does this mean? If you and a friend, or you and a family member, are both vaccinated, you can have dinner together (without) wearing masks, without distancing,” she said. “You can visit your grandparents if you have been vaccinated and they have been too.”

She added that fully vaccinated people can also visit unvaccinated people in small indoor gatherings while unmasked “as long as the unvaccinated people are not at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.”

>> Read the full guidelines released by the CDC

“This means that none of the unvaccinated people or any unvaccinated members of their households, for example, are (adults) over age 65 or have ... underlying (conditions) such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, that could increase their risk of COVID-19 related hospitalization or death,” Walensky said. “We take this approach because all of our guidance is rooted in making sure we are keeping people safe.”

People who have been fully vaccinated are still encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing while in public.

As of Sunday morning, 58.8 million Americans have received at least one dose of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the latest data available from the CDC. The number amounts to about 18% of the population. So far, 30.6 million Americans, about 9% of the population, have gotten two vaccine doses.

Three vaccines are currently available in the U.S. Two of them, one developed by Moderna and the other developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, require patients to get two vaccine doses. The third vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson, requires a single dose.

The U.S. continues to lead the world with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. As of Monday morning, 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with the viral infection, resulting in over 525,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Globally, 116.9 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in nearly 2.6 million deaths.