Over the past few months, you may have heard me call COVID-19 vaccines the light at the end of the tunnel. As more and more Arizonans get the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines, we will start to see life returning to normal. That light is getting brighter by the day.
New guidance released on Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives us another reason to be excited about COVID-19 vaccines and to get vaccinated as soon as your turn arrives.
The CDC’s new guidance tells people who’ve been fully vaccinated that they:
• Can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing masks;
• Can gather indoors with individuals from one other household (example: having your family visit a fully vaccinated grandparent); and,
• Do not have to stay away from others or get tested if exposed to someone with COVID-19 unless they develop symptoms (with the exception of those living in group homes and other congregate settings).
The CDC guidance notes that we’re still learning things about COVID-19, such as how effective vaccines are against variants of the virus, how well the vaccines keep people from spreading the diseases, and how long the vaccine provides protection.
As we continue to learn more, public health guidance may be updated later to reflect the best scientific information. We do know now, however, that each of these vaccines is safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
This guidance for fully vaccinated individuals is encouraging and another step toward resuming normal life, but it isn’t a free pass.
Like everyone else, you still need to protect yourself and others by taking precautions when you are in public and around unvaccinated people from multiple other households.
You also should take precautions when visiting an unvaccinated person who is at higher risk from COVID-19 or who lives with someone who is at increased risk.
In these situations, you still need to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away from others, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Continue to follow rules and guidance at your workplace and at businesses, as well as local ordinances with mitigation requirements. And just in case, be sure to watch out for COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you’ve been around someone who is infected.
I hope this encouraging news inspires even more Arizonans to get vaccinated.
Getting your vaccine when it’s your turn will help our state and nation build the herd immunity needed to beat COVID-19.
You can learn more by reviewing this updated CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.
Dr. Cara Christ is director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Visit azdhs.gov.