Published in NEHRA News (3/18/2021)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued interim recommendations – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html – for fully vaccinated people. As more individuals have access to the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), individuals and employers are wondering what that means in terms of gatherings, work, and travel. The CDC has indicated that what was published is an interim set of recommendations subject to review and modification based on the level of community spread of the virus, the proportion of the public which is fully vaccinated, and the rapidly evolving science on vaccines.
The CDC considers one to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after receiving the second dose in a 2-dose vaccine (currently Pfizer or Moderna) or the first dose in a single dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson). The following recommendations apply in non-healthcare settings.
Fully vaccinated people can now:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing; and
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
However, for the time being, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing;
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease;
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households;
- Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings;
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms;
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers; and
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.
The guidelines provide recommendations for various types of gatherings and offer a few recommendations of specific importance to employers. For example, the suggestion above for visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households should apply to workplace settings where you are likely to have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. In other words, continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and take other preventative measures.
With respect to issues of quarantine and testing, the CDC states that fully vaccinated individuals with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested following exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 as the risk of exposure is low. However, fully vaccinated employees (as contrasted with residents) of non-healthcare congregate settings such as detention facilities and group homes or high-density workplaces such as manufacturing plants or meat and poultry processing plants typically would not need to quarantine following exposure but should still be subject to routine workplace screening procedures.
Finally, the CDC notes that it is making no change to its travel guidance.
As always, it is important to check the CDC website frequently to confirm that no modifications in recommendations have taken place as this is a fluid situation which changes frequently.