CDC Updates Guidelines for ‘Fully Vaccinated’

The CDC is green-lighting much, much more activity for the fully-vaccinated (with some caveats).

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just updated its guidelines this afternoon. Those who are “fully vaccinated” (two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or their single dose of Johnson & Johnson) are more-or-less cleared to resume normal activities and even those who have now are given the all-clear for certain outdoor activities.

The color-coded Twitter version looks like this:

Naturally, the fuller version has more caveats.

Choosing Safer Activities

If you are fully vaccinated you can start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

*When choosing safer activities, consider how COVID-19 is spreading in your community, the number of people participating in the activity, and the location of the activity.

*Outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities, and fully vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk.

*If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, find a vaccine.

This comports with what has been common sense now for months. Rightly, though, they’re focusing on variable risk rather than black/white or the unfortunate red/green of their Twitter campaign.

COVID-19 vaccines
 are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in indoor public places until we know more.

These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.

Again, perfectly reasonable.

They suggest that those who are fully vaccinated should fail safe doing all of the following:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • You can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues.
  • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.
    • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
    • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
    • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
    • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
    • However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Again: sensible.

Here’s what they want us to keep doing even if we’re fully vaccinated:

  • You should still protect yourself and others in many situations by wearing a mask that fits snugly. Take this precaution whenever you are:
    • In indoor public settings
    • Gathering indoors with unvaccinated people (including children) from more than one other household
    • Visiting indoors with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
  • You should still avoid indoor large gatherings.
  • If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.
  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19.

This all makes sense except that’s it’s odd to green-light spending two hours or more watching a movie in an indoor theater or dining in a restaurant. Otherwise, this seems fairly reasonable.

FILED UNDER: Health, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael Cain says:

    Especially masked, the indoor dining and movies don’t seem like that much of a stretch. No one is exerting themselves, people are staying mostly quiet, little personal movement. Add in some (perhaps optimistic) assumptions about ventilation and the growing number of fully/partially vaccinated people there. Certainly less risk than, say, a basketball game where the people around you are jumping up and down and yelling.

    Every week we get more evidence that the mRNA vaccines are better than we had any reason to believe. Or even realistically hope for.

  2. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    People remove their masks when they’re eating, and many the whole time they are at a restaurant. Movie theaters make their money from selling snacks, so I assume a similar principle applies.

    I’m staying away from such things, and will keep wearing a mask, even after I’m vaccinated. Until at least a sizable portion of the population is, say 60-65%.

    And I may just have found actual 3M N95 respirators.

  3. Andy says:

    It’s nice to see the CDC finally move on this and, more importantly, start to move away from black-and-white recommendations to a spectrum (least safe, less safe, safest).

  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I think the last time I went to a movie was in Korea–which would make it 6 years ago. I’ll probably not be going to movies either, just from different motivations.

  5. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I did’t see a single movie in theaters between 2008 (The Dark knight) and 2015 (Star Wars Ep. VII).

    Since then I’ve seen several. But none since late 2019.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Kathy: I haven’t been in a movie theatre since my 13 yr old granddaughter was born. And it had been so long before that time we couldn’t believe the price of snacks.

    As my wife said upon hearing the cost of her soda: “Does it come with a straw???” fully expecting to have to pay $ for that too.

  7. CSK says:

    Ah, you beat me. I haven’t been out to the movies since the summer of 2014.

  8. CSK says:

    Speaking of movies, I’ve spent a lot of pandemic hibernation time watching the free SyFy movies on Youtube. I will say they’ve given me a new appreciation for well-cast, well-written, well-produced, well-directed, and well-photographed flicks.