The Centers for Disease Control has announced a new set of guidelines for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, leading those who have been vaccinated to have just a little more flexibility. Or as the Washington Post wrote, it’s giving “fully vaccinated Americans more freedom to socialize and pursue routine daily activities, providing a pandemic-weary nation a first glimpse of what a new normal may look like in coming months.”
The CDC proclaimed on March 8, nearly a year after the pandemic officially began, those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or who have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson version face little risk if they congregate indoors and don’t wear a mask. The Post noted, “That would free many vaccinated grandparents who live near their unvaccinated children and grandchildren to gather for the first time in a year.”
As Politico observed, though, the CDC guidelines included a section on travel in a draft version of the announcement, but “senior health officials decided not to release that portion of the recommendations at this time.”
That article also noted, “Advice on whether vaccinated people need to quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19 also sparked debate at a White House meeting Friday, one day after the guidelines were originally set for release.”
“COVID-19 continues to exert a tremendous toll on our nation,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “ Like you, I want to be able to return to everyday activities and engage with our friends, families, and communities.”
“Science and the protection of public health must guide us as we begin to resume these activities,” she said, via CNN. “Today’s action represents an important first step. It is not our final destination. As more people get vaccinated, levels of COVID-19 infection decline in communities, and as our understanding of COVID immunity improves, we look forward to updating these recommendations to the public.”
The new guidelines do appear to incentivize people to get their vaccines, though.
Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development, observed, “The sooner we move to telling people if you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear masks, that will be an incentive for people to get vaccinated.” He did, however, criticize the CDC for taking too long “to tell an exhausted public when their masks can come off.”
More than 58 million people in the United States have received one shot of a two-dose vaccine as of March 8, with nearly 31 million people now fully vaccinated. That’s still just 9% of the U.S. population, though President Biden is now promising that every adult who wants a shot by late May can get one.