The CDC Says That Fully Vaccinated People Can Return To Some Pre-Pandemic Activities

Mar 8, 2021
Originally published on March 8, 2021 3:38 pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The CDC issued new guidance this morning for people who have been fully vaccinated. They're given the green light to these people to resume some pre-pandemic activities, and they are relaxing some of the precautions that have been put in place. Here with more on this news is NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey.

Hi, Allison.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Good to be here, Ari.

SHAPIRO: We have been waiting on these guidelines, and more and more people have been vaccinated. I think something like 25% of American adults have received at least one shot. So what is the CDC saying fully vaccinated people can do?

AUBREY: Well, the agency is basically saying that fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask and without social distancing. They can also gather unmasked with people from another household who are not vaccinated and at low risk of serious illness. So that's a green light for, say, grandparents who want to gather with grandchildren or children.

SHAPIRO: Vaccinated grandparents, unvaccinated children or grandchildren, you're saying.

AUBREY: That's right. But the agency says fully vaccinated people should continue to mask when they are in public, avoid crowds and take other precautions around people who are at high risk of serious illness from the virus and aren't yet vaccinated.

SHAPIRO: So this guidance applies to a growing number of people every day. How many are we talking about?

AUBREY: Well, I mean, the pace of vaccinations has really picked up. Nearly 60 million adults have received at least one dose, but only about 12% of adults have been fully vaccinated. So the CDC says this new guidance is kind of a first step to returning to everyday activities. Officials say there's a growing body of evidence to show that fully vaccinated people are much less likely to become infected and also potentially less likely to spread the virus to others. They use that word potential because it's not completely nailed down. The risk appears to be quite low. And as the science evolves, there will be more updated guidance.

SHAPIRO: OK. But in the meantime, this is not a free-for-all. You said even fully vaccinated people should continue to take some precautions. What should they do?

AUBREY: That's right. I mean, the new guidance is really specific to what people can do in their own homes, in private settings. But the agency warns that everyone, even those who are vaccinated, should continue to follow recommended guidelines when they're out in public. And this includes masking, social distancing. I know some people don't want to hear this. They ask, well, why get the shot if they still need to take these precautions? The reason, Ari, is that 75% of adults don't yet have the vaccine, so a lot of people are still vulnerable to the virus. Also, there's still about 60,000 new cases a day. And there's still some uncertainty, as I just mentioned, as to whether vaccinated people could spread it.

SHAPIRO: And what about travel? I know lots of people are really eager to take the vacations that they've postponed for a year.

AUBREY: This may come as a disappointment, but even for fully vaccinated people, the CDC continues to recommend that people delay travel. Here's CDC director Rochelle Walensky at the White House briefing today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: We would like to give the opportunity for vaccinated grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren who are healthy and who are local. But our travel guidance currently has been unchanged.

AUBREY: So what we hear her saying is, local visits OK - not so much if it requires travel. She says the agency is still waiting on data as to whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus before they decide whether to change the travel guidelines.

SHAPIRO: That is NPR's Allison Aubrey.

Thank you for your reporting.

AUBREY: Thank you for having me, Ari.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.