Fully vaccinated? CDC says you no longer need a mask indoors

Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines in most indoor settings, the CDC announced May 13. 

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," Rochelle Walensky, MD, CDC director, said during a May 13 White House COVID-19 response briefing. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can now start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment." 

The updated guidance may also serve as an incentive for those who have not yet been vaccinated, experts say. 

"We've got to liberalize the restrictions so people can feel like they're getting back to some normalcy," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a recent interview, The New York Times reports. "You can't inhibit people from doing the things they want to do, which is one of the reasons they wanted to get vaccinated in the first place."

Even if fully vaccinated, masks will still be required within healthcare settings, when travelling via public transit and in correctional facilities, among several other exceptions, according to the CDC. Masks should also be worn as required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial guidance, including local businesses and workplaces.

The rollback on mask guidance comes after studies have demonstrated vaccine effectiveness in real-world settings, and have been shown to protect against common circulating variants in the U.S, Dr. Walensky said. 

People are considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after their final dose, according to the CDC. 

Immunocompromised people who have been fully vaccinated should consult their physicians regarding whether forgoing a mask is safe, Dr. Walensky said. 


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