In updated guidance published Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine don’t need to quarantine following exposure to someone who has tested positive for the virus.
"Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19," the CDC said.
The federal health agency added that vaccinated individuals should still follow precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. However, it’s not necessary for them to isolate themselves for 7-10 following exposure to a person with the virus.
"At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing," the CDC said.
"Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria," the CDC added.
Criteria for skipping quarantine
The following points encapsulate the CDC’s new position on quarantine procedures:
The person must have received both shots of a COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, that means two doses of either Pfizer/BioNTech’s or Moderna’s vaccine.
At least two weeks must have passed since they got the second dose. This gives the body time to develop full immunity against the virus.
The agency added that the criteria doesn’t apply to people in health care settings.
"As an exception to the above guidance no longer requiring quarantine for fully vaccinated persons, vaccinated inpatients and residents in health care settings should continue to quarantine following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; outpatients should be cared for using appropriate Transmission-Based Precautions," the CDC said.
The CDC added that health care facilities “could consider waiving quarantine for vaccinated patients and residents as a strategy to mitigate critical issues (e.g., lack of space, staff, or PPE to safely care for exposed patients or residents) when other options are unsuccessful or unavailable.” However, the agency said that option is “not preferred.”
Because scientists are still trying to figure out how long people are protected after receiving the vaccine, the CDC said people who had their last shot three months ago or more should still quarantine following exposure to an individual who has tested positive for the virus. People should also quarantine if they are showing symptoms of the virus.
The CDC said it will update its guidance as more is learned about the duration of immunity conferred by the vaccines.