What the CDC recommends for fully vaccinated people-a welcome update

Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by law.

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an illustration of the coronavirus with its characteristic surface spikes

This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice change as we learn new things. Discuss with your physician or appropriate healthcare provider.

Now that many of us have been vaccinated against the coronavirus we want to know what we can safely do. We should also be wondering what is the risk of various activities, as nothing will ever be risk free.

In the White House Rose Garden, within a mask, President Biden announced updated guidelines from the CDC, based on ongoing studies of vaccinated persons.

update May 13, 2021

Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance

Fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter

Here is what the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, posted on their web site as of May 13, 2021.

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19

  • ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or We
  • ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen ).
Dr. Aletha inspecting her arm after a COVID-19 shot
Three days after my first vaccination the soreness in my arm was almost gone, and I had no redness or swelling. After the second shot, minimal soreness. No other side effects to report. I feel fortunate. I am now fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated people can:

  • Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
  • Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
  • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations


For now, masks are still required for everyone on public transportation, until those policies are updated.

Healthcare facilities

For now, you will likely be required to wear a mask in hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and other facilities that provide direct healthcare.

Immune compromise

We don’t have enough data on vaccine protection in people who are immunocompromised. People with immunocompromising conditions, including those taking immunosuppressive medications (for instance drugs, such as mycophenolate and rituximab, to suppress rejection of transplanted organs or to treat rheumatologic conditions), should discuss the need for personal protective measures with their healthcare provider after vaccination.

Testing, testing, testing

Testing helps us identify cases, trace contacts, and prevent spread. With fewer cases, public health professionals can find contacts easier and sooner. Stopping spread will make the variant viruses less of a threat.

So please don’t stop seeking testing if you have symptoms; it is still important to know how many cases of COVID-19 there are. If we only know about the severe cases that required hospitalization, it will skew the statistics, and be less representative of the true extent of the pandemic.

Masks and Vaccines -“do unto others”

I’m not here to debate the use of masks. If you are not yet vaccinated, you should continue to do so. Better yet, just get vaccinated; it’s available and easy to get. Just click on this link


Remember, this is a contagious infectious disease spread by direct person to person contact. It’s not just about you, we’re here for each other.

Information and misinformation

There has been much of both in the past year, some deliberate, some well intentioned, some valuable, some just plain wrong. Whenever possible, get your information directly from the source, not “a friend of a friend’s second cousin”. Here are some tips for finding reliable information

Final comments from the CDC

CDC will continue to evaluate and update public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people as more information, including on new variants, becomes available. Further information on evidence and considerations related to these recommendations is available in the  Science Brief.

CDC website

exploring the HEART of ending the pandemic

And if you found this information interesting and helpful, please share with your friends on social media and elsewhere. They and I will appreciate it.

Dr. Aletha

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

2 thoughts on “What the CDC recommends for fully vaccinated people-a welcome update”

    1. Yes it is, I have felt the same way. So it felt quite strange to resume wearing them during a weekend trip to Chicago, where things are not quite so far along. It was a vivid reminder of where we all were just a few months ago, and how important it is to keep working to get everyone to a good place. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your next outing !

      Liked by 1 person

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