CDC Mask Recommendation Update 5/14/21


Q: What should I know about the new CDC recommendations allowing fully vaccinated people to lose the mask in most settings?

A: The new CDC recommendations apply to fully vaccinated people only. This individual level policy change has complicated implications for population health. Like much of the last 15 months, nothing is written in stone. Please read through this post for a number of important details.

As per the new CDC guidance, fully vaccinated people do not need to mask in most indoor and outdoor settings and do not need to socially distance (full report attached at the bottom for all the specifics). This is welcome news for many vaccinated people and another step towards post-pandemic living. 😄 Evidence supports very low risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and even lower risk for adverse outcomes from COVID-19 disease in vaccinated people. In addition, fully vaccinated people have a reduced risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to unvaccinated people. COVID-19 vaccines work! Everyone who can get a vaccine should.

Don’t 🔥 all your masks. You will still need them in some settings. Vaccinated people must continue to follow federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial rules and regulations surrounding mask wearing. Without a clear way to differentiate who is vaccinated and who is not, many settings may continue to enforce universal masking. The CDC guidance continues to require masks for all people (vaccinated or not) on all public and mass transportation as well as in airports, healthcare settings, and congregate living settings.

✋ We have not reached a number of benchmarks required to move past COVID-19 as a society. Prematurely ditching the masks and social distancing disproportionately affects populations who have no other defense against COVID-19. Roughly 2/3 of the US population has not been vaccinated. Community transmission is trending down but remains high in most of the country. The distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations remains inequitable in lower income communities, communities of color, and internationally. The burdens of an unmasked world in the absence of true control of this virus fall on unvaccinated people. This includes children, immunocompromised people, and those unable to receive the vaccination.

Just because you are not mandated to wear a mask doesn’t mean you must take it off. Many fully vaccinated people will choose to keep wearing masks. 😷 People have many reasons to keep wearing a mask even when fully vaccinated and that’s OK. Be kind to yourself and each other.

Until vaccines are available to all people AND the majority of people take the vaccine, COVID-19 can continue to spread and cause significant disruptions to daily life – cancelled vacations, deadly surges, long-term health complications, new variants, painful phone calls to unvaccinated friends and family who were exposed, inconsistent childcare, school shutdowns, social isolation, sub-optimal business operations. COVID sucks. “Returning to normal” too soon will feed this exhausting viral brushfire. Unvaccinated people should continue to follow CDC guidance for mask wearing and social distancing. Get your vaccine when you are eligible. 💉

Expect evolving guidelines on the horizon. As new information becomes available, recommendations on a number of topics are likely to change. 🧐 As always, Those Nerdy Girls will continue to ride this wave of uncertainty with you armed with science and compassion.

Additional Resources

CDC Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

New York Times Summary of new CDC Guidelines

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