Kathryn Watson, Sara Cook, Bo Erickson – CBS News
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can forgo their masks and social distancing in many indoor situations.
“Today, CDC is updating our guidance for fully vaccinated people,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday at a White House COVID-19 briefing. “Anyone who is fully vaccinated, can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
Anyone who is vaccinated but develops symptoms should mask up and get tested, she warned. Walensky also warned that there’s always a chance the pandemic situation could worsen, and the nation may need to return to pieces of the earlier guidance.
Walensky also said that fully vaccinated people entering spaces where they don’t know the vaccination status of others, like at concerts, need not worry and can still be there mask-less. It’s a significant leap from previous CDC guidance. The move comes shortly after the CDC said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors.
Walensky also said it’s safe for vaccinated people to be mask-less in indoor settings that may have unvaccinated people, such as at a concert.
“The science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected,” Walensky said. “It is the people who are not fully vaccinated in those settings, who might not be wearing a mask, who are not protected. And it is those people that we are encouraging to get vaccinated and to wear a mask and to physically distance. So, if you are vaccinated in those settings, you certainly could wear a mask if you wanted to, but we are saying in those settings, based on the science, that it is safe.”
The White House has also lifted its mask requirement for fully vaccinated people working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
President Biden spoke from the White House Rose Garden to mark the change on CDC vaccinations, and give an update on vaccinations.
“It’s a good day for the country,” he said.
The president praised those who have gotten vaccinated for doing their “patriotic duty.”
“For more than a year, you’ve endured so much, and so many lost jobs, so many businesses lost, so many lives upended, and so many months that our kids couldn’t be in school. You couldn’t see your friends and family,” the president said.
Now, things are changing. Still, the president urged those who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet to take that step.
Places where masks are still needed
The CDC guidance doesn’t apply to health care settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices and long-term care facilities. It also doesn’t apply to correctional facilities or homeless shelters.
The CDC still says fully vaccinated people should wear well-fitted masks when it is required by federal, state or local laws, as well as by businesses. Masks will still be required on planes, trains and other types of public transportation.
The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose regimen, like Pfizer or Moderna, and two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The news comes as the nation crosses 250 million vaccinations, and heads toward President Biden’s goal of 70% of Americans having at least one dose by July 4.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine in 12-to-15-year-olds.