RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Fully vaccinated people can get together with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or having to social distance.
That’s according to the first set of guidelines released by the CDC on Monday on how fully vaccinated people can spend time together.
“This is a big deal this announcement, I think. It’s like a sigh of relief. Vaccination is, as we thought, the way forward,” said Dr. Becky Smith, an associate professor of medicine and infectious disease at Duke University.
Smith also serves as the medical director for infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at Duke University Medical Center. She says COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, so it’s important to use caution before getting together.
“We still need to just put our toe in and be respectful of the people who haven’t been vaccinated yet because our actions can still impact six people away from us,” said Smith.
Under the new guidelines fully vaccinated people can get together with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or socially distancing.
They can also visit unvaccinated people from one household indoors without wearing masks or socially distancing if everyone is at low risk for severe disease.
“Multiple families need to stay apart or socially distance,” said Dr. Jessice Triche, president of the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians.
Triche says while the new guidelines don’t mention physical contact, like hugging, it’s okay to do so with caution.
“If grandma is fully vaccinated and you are fully vaccinated in theory it’s safe, keep in mind nothing is 100 percent,” said Triche. “If grandma is really high risk you may want to refrain from hugging.”
According to the new guidance, fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine or test if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 after an exposure
Triche and Smith also emphasize the guidelines are for people fully vaccinated, meaning 14 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or 14 days after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
“It takes a while for our bodies to build something called an immune response to help protect us from the virus. So in between the first and second does we’re asking everyone to wear a mask, socially distance and consider yourself not fully vaccinated,” said Triche.
The CDC still recommend several precautions for fully vaccinated people when in public, when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple families, and when around unvaccinated people who are at high risk.
Those precautions include wearing a well-fitted mask, social distancing, voiding medium to large-sized crowds, getting tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and following CDC and health department travel requirements.