What’s new: COVID-19 vaccine boosters

The CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced recommendations, which are only for those people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

an illustration of the coronavirus with its characteristic surface spikes
CDC updates July 27, 2021

The CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings , in areas of substantial or high transmission. (find transmission rates at this link.)

Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

electron microscope image of a 2019-nCoV isolate
Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots. credit Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin, public domain
Here is what the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, posted on their web site as of July 28, 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
  • If you came into close contact with someone with COVID-19 get tested 3-5 days after the date of your exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and isolate for 10 days if positive.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

Travel

For now, masks are still required for everyone on public transportation, until those policies are updated. (June 10, 2021 update)

Healthcare facilities

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

Protocols for vaccinated and non-vaccinated healthcare workers are detailed on the CDC website.

Immune compromise

People who are immunocompromised should be counseled about the potential for reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and to follow current prevention measures (including wearing a maskstaying 6 feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) regardless of their vaccination status to protect themselves against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

It has been reported that the CDC may recommend a booster for these people soon.

a scientist in a lab working on covid antibodies
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist was preparing patients’ samples for SARS-CoV-2antibody testing. Serological testing is used to detect antibodies, which indicate past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and is important to the understanding of disease prevalence within a population. credit James Gathanay, public domain

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

I am a family physician who explores the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, and through writing. On my blog, Watercress Words, I inform and inspire us in healthy living. 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.

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