CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather without masks

MIKE STOBBE
The Associated Press
FILE - Medical Assistant Keona Shepard holds up the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as she prepares to administer it at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the mass coronavirus vaccination in New Orleans, in this Thursday, March 4, 2021, file photo. (Chris Granger/The Advocate via AP, File)

NEW YORK — Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials.

The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday.

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The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.

"We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a statement.

The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 30 million Americans — or only about 9% of the U.S. population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC.

Authorized vaccine doses first became available in December, and they were products that required two doses spaced weeks apart. But since January, a small but growing number of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and have been asking questions like: Do I still have to wear a mask? Can I go to a bar now? Can I finally see my grandchildren?