The Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s new guidelines for vaccinated people could mean big news for grandparents and older relatives who have been patiently waiting to reunite with their families. On March 8, the CDC shared the "first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people," but noted that as with all things COVID-19, the guidelines may update as the science and level of community spread changes.
For this first set of guidelines, the CDC says "people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 [more than] 2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series" of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or over two weeks after they receive the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Once fully vaccinated grandparents and older relatives meet that criteria, they can:
- "Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic"
The CDC adds that fully vaccinated individuals should still practice social distancing and mask-wearing while in public, when visiting unvaccinated people who are at high-risk for COVID-19, and when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households. And though vaccinated people can refrain from COVID testing following known exposures if they're not feeling sick, the CDC urges testing if the person has symptoms, despite being fully vaccinated.
For families, specifically, these new guidelines mean that fully vaccinated grandparents can finally visit their unvaccinated children and grandchildren (as long as everyone they're visiting lives in one household), provided that none of the unvaccinated people in the household are at high risk for COVID-19. If unvaccinated family members from more than one household are gathering, the CDC recommends outdoor meetings, mask-wearing, and social distancing "due to the risk the two unvaccinated households pose to one another."
Although we must continue to be diligent in protecting ourselves and others, after a full year of social distancing and sheltering in place to keep our families and communities safe, these guidelines shine a hopeful light on the year to come as more and more people are able to get vaccinated.