For the first time in about a year, the United States is receiving some good news around the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released new guidelines for what people who are fully vaccinated can do.
There are 3 different COVID-19 vaccinations that are available to the public to use here in the united states. Those are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. Each come with various requirements on what it means to be fully vaccinated. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires 2 injections of the vaccination with a 21 day period in between the first and second inoculation. Moderna also required 2 injections of their vaccine, but the main difference is Moderna inoculations are given 28 days apart. Finally, the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine only requires 1 dose to meet the full requirements of being inoculated.
It is imperative to note that simply getting the full requirement of shots from whichever vaccine distributor you get your vaccine from does not mean you are fully vaccinated. The CDC states that you are not fully protected until you have waited 2 weeks after you get your 2nd dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or 2 weeks after your only dose of Johnson & Johnson.
Once you are fully vaccinated the CDC has said that you can now visit other people who are fully vaccinated indoors and without masks or maintaining a social distance of 6 feet. They also said fully vaccinated people may also visit with unvaccinated people from one other household inside without masks or a social distance of 6 feet, but with the important caveat that everybody in that household is low risk for a severe COVID-19 case. Finally, the CDC said that those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 when coming into contact with an individual who has COVID-19 so long as the fully vaccinated individual does not show symptoms.
When going into public spaces, the CDC still recommends wearing a well-fitted mask, and maintaining social distancing. The CDC also recommends these requirements when visiting an unvaccinated person who is in a high-risk category to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms, if you visit multiple households with unvaccinated people, and also made a point of avoid medium to large-sized gatherings of people.
President Joe Biden has announced that there will be enough vaccines for every adult by the middle of May, is an update from the end of May which President Biden only recently announced. Dr. Anthony Fauci is anticipating that high school aged students can receive COVID-19 vaccinations by this fall, young children in early 2022.
With news like this, the path to life returning as normally is starting to seem more realistic. Small businesses, like those in the entertainment, food, and other service and retail businesses, a light is appearing at the end of the tunnel.
While this news is certainly good, cases are plateauing in the United States, which spells bad news after a steep decline in the number of cases reported per day over the past couple months. Dr. Fauci does not believe COVID-19 restrictions should be loosened for the entire nation until daily new cases fall below the 10,000 per day threshold, and the current levels in the plateau are more than 60,000 per day.
While state governments are starting to loosen, or end restrictions entirely because of vaccinations and the lower numbers, please be kind. Wear a mask in public, even if you have been vaccinated, since there is no conclusive research yet that shows those who are vaccinated are unable to pass along the virus to people who are not vaccinated. Another factor is that while the COVID-19 vaccines available to the public are effective, they do not guarantee 100% immunity from the virus. What the vaccines do help with, however, is they are very effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19 which could cause hospitalization or death.
Remember, stay kind, wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and get your vaccinations when you are eligible.
Written by Jordan Farber, Juris Doctor Candidate and Associate Editor of the Chicago-Kent Journal of Environmental and Energy Law.