Do fully vaccinated people need to wear a mask?

Fully vaccinated Americans have more freedoms outside, but indoor mask-wearing still recommended

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Thursday 29 April 2021 17:05
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Joe Biden marks 200m Covid vaccine shots delivered
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled a list of activities that fully vaccinated Americans are able to once again do without wearing a face mask.

An individual is considered fully vaccinated if 14 days have passed since they received the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

A general rule remains that the more closely you interact with others and the length of time of said interaction dictates the potential exposure to Covid-19.

The agency reminded people to consider factors that make an activity safe or not, such as the spread of Covid-19 in their community, the number of people present, and whether it will be taking place indoors or outdoors.

In the year since the virus arrived in the US, research indicates that only a small number of infections come from outdoor activities.

Further to that, studies of vaccinated people show that in the rare event that they do pick up an infection, they carry a substantially lower amount of the virus making it less likely to spread to those with whom they come into contact.

Here are the latest guidelines.

Outdoor Activities

Both fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people can now walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of their household without a mask. They may also attend a small outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends without wearing one.

Those who have received their full dose of the vaccine may also attend small outdoor gatherings with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people without wearing a mask, but at this point, unvaccinated people are advised to wear a face covering. The same is true of dining outdoors at a restaurant with friends from multiple households – even with a mask, this is considered less safe for those who are yet to get a vaccine.

Regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated, a mask is advised to attend a crowded, outdoor event, such as a live performance, parade, or sports event. This is considered particularly unsafe for the unvaccinated.

Indoor Activities

At this stage, it is still recommended that you wear a mask for all indoor activities, even if you are fully vaccinated, to remain as safe as possible.

This includes visiting a barber or hair salon, an uncrowded mall or museum, riding on public transport or attending a small, indoor gathering of a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households.

For the unvaccinated, the CDC lists these activities as less safe, even with a mask.

Masks are also still advised for everyone, including vaccinated people, at indoor movie screenings, full capacity religious services, singing in an indoor chorus, eating inside a bar or restaurant, and participating in an indoor exercise class.

The CDC considers these activities least safe for the unvaccinated even with a face covering.

What next?

These recommendations will remain in place until case numbers drop further and more people are vaccinated.

As of 23 April, the seven-day moving average for new cases stands at 62,827 per day but fell as much as 10 per cent over the previous week. It is also down 75 per cent from the peak on 8 January.

Just under 142 million Americans had received at least one dose of a vaccine by 27 April – 42.7 per cent of the population. Almost 97 million have been fully vaccinated – 29.1 per cent of all US residents.

Joe Biden has promised that next week there will be an announcement with more details regarding the country’s next steps on the path towards celebrating independence from Covid-19 on the Fourth of July.

Both the president and the CDC advise that all Americans who have not yet been vaccinated do so at the earliest possible moment.

As many as 250 million doses are expected to have been administered in the US by the end of the week, approximately coinciding with Mr Biden’s 100th day in office.

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