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People who are fully vaccinated are unlikely to transmit or contract the coronavirus while indoors. Drazen/Getty Images
  • Fully vaccinated people can now take off their masks in most indoor settings, the CDC announced today.
  • The masks can come off in offices, schools, and restaurants, but the guidance says fully vaccinated people should still wear masks in certain crowded settings.
  • Vaccines are our ticket to normalcy and should be treated as such.

Fully vaccinated people can now take off their masks in most indoor settings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today.

The new guidance says fully vaccinated people, which are people who are 2 weeks out from their second dose of the two-shot vaccine or people 2 weeks out from the one-shot vaccine, don’t need to wear masks indoors in places like offices, schools, restaurants, gyms, and bars.

Masks will still be required in crowded settings like planes, public transportation, prisons, and homeless shelters, per the guidance.

The guidance also states that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outside, even in crowds.

Unvaccinated people still need to adhere to the masking and safety protocols recommended in public areas, the CDC states.

Here’s what to know about masking indoors if you’re fully vaccinated.

Clinical trials showed that the vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing COVID-19, and real-world evidence confirmed those findings.

Of the nearly 95 million people who had been vaccinated as of April 26 in the United States, there were only around 6,700 symptomatic breakthrough infections in that time.

Currently, 46.4 percent of all people in the United States have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 35.8 percent are fully vaccinated.

“The vaccines are a triumph of modern medicine. They dramatically reduce the risk of getting COVID,” said Dr. Lucy McBride, a practicing internal medicine physician in Washington, D.C.

The vaccines also cut people’s ability to transmit the infection and make post-vaccination transmission very unlikely.

“Even if vaccinated people do carry tiny bits of virus in their nose without symptoms, it’s not likely to be in any significant amount to infect other people. Basically, once you have been vaccinated, you are safe yourself, and you are safe to be around other people,” McBride said.

There are some exceptions: People who are severely immunocompromised may not produce as strong of an immune response against the coronavirus after getting vaccinated. For these people, it’s crucial to have a conversation with their primary care doctor about their risks.

Overall, the odds of infection after vaccination are miniscule. “The risk isn’t zero, but zero was never on the menu,” McBride said.

Infectious disease experts have long been arguing that health officials should be incentivizing people to get vaccinated.

The vaccines’ impressive efficacy should give people freedom and allow them to regain some normalcy.

By telling people they can resume parts of their lives after vaccination, more people will presumably be motivated to get the shot.

“The benefits of vaccination are crystal clear. We only have to look at the real-world data to see that vaccination is the ticket to normalcy,” McBride said.

New daily COVID-19 cases, new daily hospitalizations, and new daily deaths have been declining week after week since the United States launched its vaccination campaign. As more people get vaccinated, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will plummet.

Experts suspect that around 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to be immune to reach herd immunity.

Right now, the United States vaccination rate is hovering around 35 percent. While this has pushed the country toward an inflection point in which there are enough people vaccinated that cases are dropping, we need more people to get vaccinated to block the spread of COVID-19.

The pace of vaccination slowed over the past few weeks. About 2.2 million doses are currently being administered, a 35 percent drop from the peak in mid-April, but up a bit over the past few days.

The hope is that this new mask guidance will encourage people who are on the fence to secure a vaccine appointment. The vaccines do allow people to get some normalcy back.

“We’re in a collective trauma. Our physical and mental health have taken a toll. Vaccination offers the chance to begin the road to recovery,” McBride said.

Fully vaccinated people can now take off their masks in most indoor settings, the CDC announced today.

The masks can come off in offices, schools, and restaurants, but the guidance says fully vaccinated people should keep their masks on in certain crowded settings.

Experts say vaccines are our ticket to normalcy and should be treated as such.