NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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?
ABC4 has answered numerous questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is a look at a few:
How long should I wait to get the vaccine after having the virus?
According to Jenny Johnson, Public Information Officer with the Utah Department of Health, people who have had COVID-19 can safely be vaccinated.
The only “rule” about being vaccinated after being infected with the virus, she says, is that people must have completed the quarantine period and be symptom-free.
“There is no reason why someone should not get the vaccine after being infected,” Johnson says.
Can I donate blood after receiving the vaccine?
You can, but the American Red Cross says it is important to note which type of vaccine you got.
What should and shouldn’t I do after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Do you continue to social distance and wear a mask? And when does immunity set in?
The Utah Department of Health provided ABC4 some guidelines.
I missed my second COVID-19 shot – now what?
The appointment is scheduled, and you missed getting it! What do you do now? Will you have to take two more shots? Probably not. Here’s what the Utah Department of Health says:
“You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.”
When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?
While the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those 16 and 17-years-old, studies continue on the use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on children ages 12 and older.
Do the vaccines have microchips in them?
No, the vaccines do not have a microchip in them. ABC4 spoke with a pair of experts who explain where the theory came from.
Can I take painkillers before or after receiving the vaccine?
It’s best to avoid them, unless you routinely take them for a medical condition, officials say. Although the evidence is limited, some painkillers might interfere with the very thing the vaccine is trying to do: generate a strong immune system response. Health officials explain why.
For continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine, click here.