US health agency: Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks

Washington, Mar 8 (efe-epa).- The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday unveiled its much-anticipated guidelines for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19, saying those individuals can meet indoors with other inoculated people without wearing masks yet also advising them to continue to exercise caution in public places.

The US’s campaign to vaccinate its entire adult population is in full flight now that the Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The former two require two doses for full immunization to be achieved, while with the latter jab only one dose is needed.

At least 59 million people in the US have received at least a single vaccine dose, while 31 million – roughly 9.2 percent of the population – are completely inoculated against the coronavirus.

The new guidelines unveiled Monday by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s daily press conference apply to those individuals who are considered fully vaccinated because they received either the Johnson & Johnson shot or the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna jabs two weeks ago.

Fully vaccinated individuals can meet “in small gatherings indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing,” she 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. You can visit your grandparents if you have been vaccinated and they have been too.”

In spelling out its latest guidelines, the CDC divided the unvaccinated population into two categories: those who are at increased risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19 and those who are not.

“CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can visit unvaccinated people from one other household indoors, without wearing masks or physical distancing, as long as the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated members of their household are not at high risk from severe Covid-19 disease,” Walensky said.

The CDC director said unvaccinated people are regarded as not at risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19 if they are younger than 65 and do not suffer from any underlying condition such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

In that regard, she said that “if grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family even if they have not been vaccinated, so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease.”

By contrast, vaccinated individuals should wear a mask, maintain physical distancing and try to gather outside or in well-ventilated areas when meeting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk of suffering serious complications from Covid-19.

“We take this approach because all of our guidance is rooted in making sure we are keeping people safe,” Walensky said.

Referring to vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone infected with Covid-19, the CDC said they do not need to enter into quarantine or be administered a coronavirus test as long as they do not have any symptoms.

Walensky also added that the CDC is readjusting its travel recommendations, although she recalled that the US and the entire world are still in the grips of a serious pandemic and that 90 percent of the US population still has not been fully vaccinated.

“Therefore, everyone whether vaccinated or not should continue to avoid medium- and large-size gatherings, as well as non-essential travel, and when in public spaces should continue to wear a well-fitted mask, physically distance and follow other public health measures to protect themselves and others,” the CDC director said.

She added that there is solid clinical data showing that “the current Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe illness, hospitalization or death from Covid-19.”

Even so, a small risk still exists that “vaccinated people could become infected with milder or asymptomatic disease, and potentially even transmit the virus to others who are not vaccinated,” Walensky said. EFE-EPA


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