- MEDPAGE TODAY - MAY 13, 2021 - Shannon Firth, Washington Correspondent -
— Exception for crowded places indoors like buses, planes, hospitals, homeless shelters, and jails
CDC issued new guidance on Thursday allowing vaccinated people to drop their masks indoors, with some exceptions, and outdoors entirely, even in crowds.
"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH. "We have all longed for this moment."
She said that "based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated."
The fully vaccinated can start doing the things they stopped doing because of the pandemic, said Walensky.
The only exception to the rule is in certain crowded indoor spaces, such as buses, and planes, and in congregate settings, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and jails, where CDC still recommends people mask up.
And Walensky warned that those who are immunocompromised should speak to their doctors before putting down their masks.
"If you develop symptoms, you should put your mask back on and get tested right away," she said.
The science has shown that those who are fully vaccinated -- 2 weeks since their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or since having a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- are protected against COVID-19, said Walensky.
She cited a real-world review of Israeli health records -- which found that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 97% effective against symptomatic infection and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection in more than 5,000 healthcare workers -- and two additional studies published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) as proof that the vaccinations work.
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