On Thursday US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated people can avoid wearing masks outdoors and indoors in most places.
In a press conference CDC director Rochelle Walensky said: “If you were fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
People are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There are a few caveats. Vaccinated people who have weak immune should talk to their doctor before getting rid of their masks, Walensky said. Certain settings will still require a mask, including health care settings, public transit, and on planes or trains. And if someone develops symptoms, they should mask back up.
She also cautioned that if the situation with the pandemic gets worse in the US, the guidance might change, too — if there is a spike in cases or a new outbreak, masks and social distancing measures may return.
In the two weeks since the CDC’s last update, Walensky noted that cases in the US have dropped by a third, and more people are now eligible for a vaccine.As of this week, vaccines are authorized for people 12 years and older in the United States.
Officials also emphasized that if people want to continue wearing masks in public, they can. “We know the risk is extremely low of getting infected If you’re vaccinated, whether you’re indoors or outdoors. But there are those people who don’t want to take that bit of a risk, and there’s nothing wrong with that and they shouldn’t be criticized,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a press conference.
“People have to make these decisions based on their own comfort,” Walensky agreed.
The CDC said fully vaccinated people should still wear masks where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, and abide by such rules and regulations, including from local businesses and workplace guidance.