As recently as Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Americans should continue wearing their masks and social distancing after getting the vaccine because they can still spread the coronavirus.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that those who are fully-vaccinated can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without a mask or social distancing.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the science of COVID-19 “is complex and our understanding of the virus continues to rapidly evolve,” before saying a balance must be struck between the risk of those who have and have not been vaccinated and the benefit of “resuming everyday activities and getting back to some of the things we love in life.”
“It’s against this backdrop and the current state of the pandemic that we have developed these new recommendations,” she said in a statement. “With today’s initial guidance, it’s important to note that we are focusing on activities fully vaccinated people can resume in private settings such as their homes under two scenarios.”
“The first scenario is fully vaccinated people visiting with other fully vaccinated people,” Walensky added. “In this scenario, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people in small gatherings indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing — remember here we are talking about private settings where everyone is vaccinated.”
The director explained what this means, but seemed to confusingly say the people in the scenario she shared should be wearing masks.
“If you and a friend or you and a family member are both vaccinated, you can have dinner together wearing masks without distancing. You can visit your grandparents if you have been vaccinated and they have been, too,” Walensky said.
The CDC still recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public.
Walensky then shared recommendations for a more complicated scenario involving vaccinated people visiting with unvaccinated people.
Stressing the importance of keeping people safe, she said, “When fully vaccinated people visit with unvaccinated people, we have to consider the underlying risks of the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated members of their household.”
“So CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing as long as the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated people of the household are not at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease,” she said.
The stipulation being that no unvaccinated members of the household are an adult over age 65 or have an underlying condition such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, that increases their risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death.
“Here is an example,” Walensky said. “If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family, even if they have not been vaccinated so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease.”
If an unvaccinated person is high risk, she said “everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should still wear a mask and physically distance and choose to meet outdoors or in a well ventilated space.”
“Similarly, when fully vaccinated people are visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households, everyone should wear masks and physically distance and meet outdoors in a well ventilated space,” Walensky added.