You’ve been fully vaccinated: two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, plus several weeks for your immune system to fully respond. Now what can you do?
New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Monday, March 8, offer good news: You can see your family or have other vaccinated friends over, indoors, without a mask (with a caveat).
“If you’ve been fully vaccinated,” the new guidelines read:
You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
In other words, if you want to have other fully vaccinated friends over for dinner, the CDC says that you should go ahead. The reduced risk of infection and transmission on both sides (yours and theirs) makes this a basically safe activity.
If you want to gather indoors with relatives or friends who aren’t fully vaccinated, that also poses much lower risk now that you’re vaccinated — so you can do it. But the risk is not as low as when everyone is vaccinated, so you shouldn’t do it if anyone at increased risk of severe Covid-19 might be affected (including high-risk people who live with those who want to gather). If you have elderly or immunocompromised loved ones who haven’t yet been vaccinated, you should get them vaccinated before you hang out. The CDC also still cautions people to delay travel outside of local areas.
The CDC emphasizes that in order for these rules to apply, you must be fully vaccinated: if you got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you need both doses, and for any vaccine, it should be two weeks since you got your last vaccine dose. “If it has been less than 2 weeks since your shot, or if you still need to get your second dose, you are NOT fully protected. Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated,” the guidelines read.
They also emphasize that even vaccinated people should keep taking precautions in public spaces shared with crowds of strangers, including masks and social distancing.
The CDC expects to revise these recommendations over the next couple of months, as more people are vaccinated and more data comes in on how much exactly the vaccines protect the people around you. But for now, vaccinated people can enjoy vastly increased freedom in private with friends and family — while still masking up in public as we fight to get the vaccine more widely available.