Let's all read that headline again slowly. 'Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks'. Now, we know that the guidelines for COVID-19 change quite frequently, and that can get confusing. Last week, when Texas announced that they were lifting the mask mandate, and everyone had opinions about that. Today, the Centers for Disease for Control made a pretty big announcement of their own regarding masks and vaccinations.

First of all, you'll need to make sure you are fully vaccinated, and that is a little more than just completing all of the shots. You have to give it time to work inside your body.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. Although vaccinations are accelerating, CDC estimates that just 9.2% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine that the FDA has authorized for emergency use.

 

Here's What's New:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
    • However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

That's a pretty big incentive to get vaccinated, but there are some guidelines that haven't changed, and a little bit of a grey area.

What Hasn't Changed:

  • You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
  • You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.
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COVID-19 Learning Process:

We have to remember that this is a new virus and a new vaccination process. That means that guidelines can change at any time, and even if you are fully vaccinated and you've waited the required 2 weeks, you shouldn't let your guard down.

  • We’re still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease.
  • Early data show that the vaccines may help keep people from spreading COVID-19, but we are learning more as more people get vaccinated.
  • We’re still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people.
  • As we know more, CDC will continue to update our recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

It seems like we are making progress, one day at a time. Please continue to do your part.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.