By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – In private settings, fully vaccinated people can study, worship, play cards and visit without masks or social distancing, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
The CDC has issued its first set of guidelines for the nation’s fully vaccinated individuals that allow them to gather indoors without masks in small groups.
For 8.7 percent of the state’s residents who have received two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and those who received the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19, this allows them to see one another without COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in a year.
Gov. Chris Sununu welcomed the CDC announcement and noted it may be an inducement for others to get fully vaccinated.
“The CDC’s updated guidance is welcome news for vaccinated Granite Staters as we look forward to returning to normal,” said Sununu.
“This is a step in the right direction, and is all the more reason that individuals should get the safe, effective, and life-saving vaccine as soon as it’s their turn.”
By fully vaccinated, the CDC means that two weeks have passed since the final or single-dose vaccination.
The following recommendations apply to non-healthcare settings.
Fully vaccinated people 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 noted, however, that for now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
– Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
– Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
– Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
– Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
The CDC also recommends people get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, etc.
The new guidance did not open up the flood gates for travel, however. It suggests all people refrain from unnecessary travel, but noted that they will be updating guidance for fully vaccinated individuals going forward.
The CDC said a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit the virus to others.
Just how long vaccine protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against emerging variants are still under investigation.
“Until more is known and vaccination coverage increases, some prevention measures will continue to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status,” the CDC said.
As of Tuesday, 118,000 residents of New Hampshire have been fully vaccinated. The state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard is here https://www.nh.gov/covid19/dashboard/vaccination.htm.
The majority of health-care workers and elderly in the state have been given the vaccine and as of Friday, the next phase of individuals, 50,000 teachers and child care workers, will begin to be offered the vaccines.
The Biden Administration is hoping that with more vaccines available, the nation can expect that everyone will have a chance to be vaccinated by the end of May. Gov. Sununu said that may be optimistic.