As vaccine rollouts expands to all adults and, most recently, younger teens ages 12 to 15, health officials have a better idea of what it means to be safe and move safely through the world post-vaccination. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidelines for fully-vaccinated individuals, stating that they can resume activities sans mask and without social distancing.
In updates dropped on the agency’s website, they state “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance” and “fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announce the decision during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Thursday: “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Big news from the CDC: If you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask – indoors or outdoors, in most settings.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 13, 2021
We’ve gotten this far. Whether you choose to get vaccinated or wear a mask, please protect yourself until we get to the finish line. pic.twitter.com/XI4yPmhWaD
As the COVID-19 conditions between hospital capacity, number of illnesses and deaths saw improvement as vaccination numbers rose, Walensky said that these latest guidances could be rolled back if things worsen.
As SheKnows previously reported, anxiety around mask-wearing (when to do it, when not to) is a complex issue that won’t necessarily be solved with this announcement. For many, the traumatic experience of living through a pandemic and witnessing its effects on their neighborhood has made masks an important comfort and safety tool.
Likewise, she said that the best-practices for unvaccinated people are still the same and the science hasn’t changed: Masks work and if you aren’t two weeks out from your final dose (or only dose in the case of the J&J vaccine) you should be wearing one outdoors and indoors.
“The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people. You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others,” Walensky said. “You should still mask, and you should get vaccinated right away.”
Before you go, check out our favorite kids masks for little ones not eligible to be vaccinated yet:
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