Fully vaccinated people should feel free to visit their unvaccinated family and friends without restrictions, but visits should be limited to one unvaccinated household at a time, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Monday.
And sorry, but even fully vaccinated grandparents should not be bringing their grandkids to church or otherwise exposing them to crowds, CDC officials said during a web briefing.
The CDC will update its guidance once it becomes clear how well vaccination prevents spread of the virus, but for the time being, there are still limits on what fully vaccinated people should do, they said.
"In the setting that the unvaccinated people are from a single household, and all the unvaccinated people are at low risk of severe Covid-19 illness, no prevention measures are needed, so these visits could happen indoors with no mask or physical distancing," said Tami Skoff, CDC epidemiologist on the Clinical Guidelines Team of the Vaccine Task Force.
"And the example we like to give here is fully vaccinated grandparents can visit with their unvaccinated daughter and her unvaccinated children, assuming none of them are at high risk of severe disease. These visits can be done indoors with no masks or physical distancing," Skoff said during a CDC webinar on interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people.
These recommendations only apply to people who are fully vaccinated, Skoff said, which means it has been two weeks since the second dose of a two dose vaccine series or two weeks since receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection, and therefore potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others," Skoff said.
"We know that Covid vaccines are very effective at preventing people from getting symptomatic disease (and) even more effective at preventing people from getting severe Covid-19 disease. Additionally, as I just discussed, you know there's a lot of accumulating evidence that the currently available vaccines really helped to reduce or stop spread of this virus from fully vaccinated people to others," she said.
But there are two important exceptions that would require everyone to follow standard precautions such as physical distancing and wearing a mask. One is if any of the unvaccinated people are at increased risk of severe Covid-19, such as older adults, pregnant women, or people with Down Syndrome, among others. The other would be if more than two unvaccinated households are mixing.
"According to the CDC recommendations, if unvaccinated persons from more than one household are participating in a visit, then these visits should continue to happen outside and everyone regardless of vaccination status should be physically distanced and wearing well-fitted masks," Skoff said.
"The example we like to give here is if we have two families visiting with one another. Both families have two fully vaccinated adults and two unvaccinated children. In this example we'd recommend that the visit take place outdoors and everyone wear masks and physically distance," Skoff said.
Asked if it would be all right for a pair of fully vaccinated adults to take children to church, Skoff said no.
Children, she said, cannot be vaccinated for the most part and they could be at risk in a church crowd. "Current CDC recommendations are that all people, including people who are fully vaccinated, should continue to avoid medium- and large-sized in person gatherings," Skoff said.
Likewise, even fully vaccinated people need to be careful when traveling, said Dr. Cynthia Ogden of CDC's Covid emergency response team.
"While we work to vaccinate more people, preventive measures such as pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel self quarantine, along with wearing well-fitted masks, will help us prevent the spread of Covid-19," Ogden said.
"No vaccine is perfect. A small number of people could still get Covid-19 after getting fully vaccinated and they could spread the virus to unvaccinated people. There are studies going on now about how well the vaccines reduce spread of the virus and we may update our recommendations we learn more," Ogden added.
"We will be closely watching the trends in cases over the next month," she said. "Until more is known and vaccine coverage increases, some preventive measures will cont to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status."