Fully-vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials.
The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday.
This is an announcement Marty Lydecker in Fort Myers has waited for like so many others.
“It’s welcome news to know that maybe we can get out and start living our lives again,” Lydecker told WINK News.
The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.
“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a statement.
For many grandparents who are vaccinated, this means hugging their family members again.
“They should feel quite comfortable and safe and not worry about passing any infection to their children or grandchildren assuming those are low-risk individuals,” Dr. Rebekah Bernard told WINK News.
A noticeable exception to the new guidelines is travel.
“Even if you are fully vaccinated, delaying domestic and international travel is still important,” Kristine Hollinsworth, a spokesperson for Florida Department of Health in Collier County, told WINK News,
The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.
“We’re not going to sit inside anybody’s restaurant,” Lydecker said. “We’ll take our food to go, and that’s the new norm, so we’ll just keep doing the new norm.”
Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 30 million Americans — or only about 9% of the U.S. population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC.
“Of course, there will always be some exceptions to the rule,” Bernard told WINK News. “But I think most people will understand what they need to do.”
Authorized vaccine doses first became available in December, and they were products that required two doses spaced weeks apart. But since January, a small but growing number of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and have been asking questions like: Do I still have to wear a mask? Can I go to a bar now? Can I finally see my grandchildren?
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.