CDC Relaxes Mask-Wearing Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

"We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said.

Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks indoors in most instances, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday, The Associated Press reported. The new guidance still suggests that masks be worn in crowded indoor settings, such as planes, buses, homeless shelters, and hospitals.

Additionally, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks outdoors in crowds, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, announced.

"Over the course of the pandemic, we are continuously gathering data and evidence to inform our guidance and decision-making," Walensky said.

Based on that data, the science on the vaccines' ability to protect against circulating variants, and the low risk of transmission to others, "anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities—large or small—without wearing a mask or physically distancing," she said. "You can start doing the things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy...This is an exciting and powerful moment."

During the public announcement, Anthony Fauci, MD, also offered insight into the future of a universal coronavirus vaccine.

According to the AP, President Joe Biden believes that mask guidelines need to mirror the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, a rollout that now includes children as young as 12 years old.

Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of Infection Control Today®’s Editorial Advisory Board, recently wrote that the wearing of masks should continue until herd immunity is reached.

When contacted about the CDC announcement, Kavanagh told ICT® in an email exchange that people should approach the changed guidance with caution.

“We still have over half of our population not fully vaccinated and one cannot tell who is and who is not vaccinated,” Kavanagh said. “And because of aerosolization of the virus, how close you are to someone will not gauge indoor safety. Airflow and sanitization is of utmost importance.”