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US: Got vaccinated? No need for masks whether you gather indoors, says CDC

Continue to avoid large-gatherings, watch for COVID symptoms, says CDC

covid-mask-coronavirus-ap Representational image | AP

As the US approaches one year since the first lockdown declared over the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released its guidelines for Americans who have received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Those who have been fully vaccinated—that is, those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or two weeks past their single-dose of vaccines like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine—may now visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or social distancing, says the CDC.

The CDC adds that if you meet the above conditions, 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,” states the CDC.

“After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more,” the CDC warned.

The CDC still warns Americans to avoid medium or large-sized gatherings, delay domestic and international travel, and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.

While the vaccines deployed so far have cleared multiple phases of clinical trials, there remain fears over their effectiveness against virus mutations. Last month, Pfizer said the South African coronavirus variant could significantly reduce the amount of protective antibodies generated by its vaccine. Moderna has also been at work on a new batch of vaccines that it is testing against the South African strain. Recent data has shown that both the Johnson & Johnson and Novovax vaccines were less effective against the emerging UK and South African variants (nonetheless showing moderate to strong efficacy against the various COVID-19 variants).

As the US vaccination campaign chugs on, with over 17.7 per cent of the US population vaccianted with over 90 million doses administered, anticipation is high for the end of restrictions that became the “new normal” since the pandemic began. States like Texas have already removed their mask-wearing mandates.

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