WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recommendations released Monday also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe diseases, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.
According to the CDC, a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.
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.
“It’s important to realize … that still over 90% of the population is not yet vaccinated, and that is our responsibility to make sure, in the context of 60,000 new cases a day, that we protect those who remain unvaccinated and vulnerable,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
About 30 million people, or 9.2% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data. Nearly 18% of the U.S. population, or 58.9 million adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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,” Walensky said in a statement.
While vaccination rates have been increasing and offer hope, Walenksy continued to urge Americans to “double down” on virus prevention measures amid concerning virus variants.
“I know the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to everyday activities is appealing, but we’re not there yet,” Walensky said during a briefing Friday. “We have seen this movie before. When prevention measures, like mask mandates, are rolled back, cases go up.”
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said last month they are testing a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the virus. In January, Moderna said while its vaccine is effective against emerging variants that have appeared in the United Kingdom and South Africa, it would test a vaccine booster and an alerted booster against the South Africa variant.
J&J said in January its vaccine was 66% effective against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people.
Walensky has warned of a potential for a fourth wave of cases in the U.S., saying, “We have the ability to stop that from happening if Americans continue to follow public health protocols, including masking, washing hands and social distancing.”
There have been nearly 29 million confirmed cases in the United States and more than 525,000 Americans have died from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report