September 26, 2021

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CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather in Small Groups Without Masks – The Wall Street Journal

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People who are fully vaccinated against the new coronavirus can gather privately in small groups without masks or physical distancing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, relaxing safety guidelines for inoculated individuals under some circumstances.

The CDC said Monday that fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in most circumstances to prevent the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. People who are fully immunized should continue to wear masks and keep their distance from others in public or while visiting unvaccinated people at higher risk for severe cases of Covid-19, the CDC said.

It is possible that vaccinated people could still get infected by the virus and transmit it to others who are at risk for severe disease, public-health experts say. But early research suggests that in addition to protecting against severe cases of Covid-19 that could lead to hospitalization or death, authorized vaccines likely also make people less vulnerable to infection and potentially less likely to spread the virus, the CDC said.

Understanding Coronavirus

“There are some activities that fully vaccinated people can begin to resume now in the privacy of their own homes,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Everyone—even those who are vaccinated—should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings.”

The CDC released its guidance for vaccinated people as more than 90 million Covid-19 shots have been administered across the U.S., allowing people who have been vaccinated to navigate life during the pandemic with that added layer of protection against the virus. More than 17% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data, and just over 9% of the population has gotten two shots.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the two-shot vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE as well as by Moderna Inc., or two weeks after getting the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC said people who are fully vaccinated against the virus can visit with unvaccinated members of a single household without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing as long as those people are at low risk for severe cases of Covid-19. Vaccinated individuals don’t need to quarantine or receive a Covid-19 test after being exposed to the virus if they don’t have any symptoms, the CDC said.

Vaccinated people are also less likely to get infected during activities such as eating indoors at restaurants or going to the gym, the CDC said, though people should still follow safety precautions in those circumstances.

“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” Dr. Walensky said.

For now, the CDC said, everyone should avoid gatherings larger than small groups of individuals regardless of their vaccination status. The CDC didn’t update its travel guidance for vaccinated individuals, which includes avoiding nonessential travel and wearing masks on planes, buses, trains and other public transportation.

Alerts and web-browser tools can help you book a Covid-19 vaccine appointment. WSJ’s Joanna Stern met up with Kris Slevens, an IT guy who has booked over 300 appointments for New Jersey seniors, to learn the best tricks to compete in the vaccine-booking Hunger Games. Photo illustration: Emil Lendof for The Wall Street Journal

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Write to Brianna Abbott at brianna.abbott@wsj.com

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