THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Fully vaccinated Americans can now skip quarantines if they are exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, new federal guidelines say.
"Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidance posted Wednesday on its website.
There was one caveat: At least two weeks must have passed since the second shot, because it takes that long to build full immunity. But the CDC says it is not known how long protection lasts, so people who had their last shot three months ago or more should still quarantine if they are exposed or show symptoms, the agency added.
"This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity," the CDC said. People who have been vaccinated should still watch for symptoms for 14 days after they have been exposed to someone who is infected, the agency added.
That does not mean vaccinated people should stop practicing social distancing, the CDC noted. Everyone, vaccinated or not, needs to follow all other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, the agency said.
"These criteria could also be applied when considering work restrictions for fully vaccinated health care personnel with higher-risk exposures, as a strategy to alleviate staffing shortages," the CDC said. "Of note, exposed health care personnel would not be required to quarantine outside of work."