People vaccinated against Covid-19 can go without masks indoors and outdoors, CDC says

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By Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield,

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Covid-19 briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

Within CDC, there’s debate about how to best advise Americans on masks
Within CDC, there’s debate about how to best advise Americans on masks
Calling it an “exciting and powerful moment,” Walensky said the science supports the updated CDC guidance that “anyone who is fully vaccinated can indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physical distancing.”

She cited three studies — one from Israel and one from the — that show work.

The Israeli study, which was published the Journal of the American Association, showed the vaccine was 97% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection over 5,000 care workers.

There have been reports of “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated people in the — a small among more than 117 million people in the who are now fully vaccinated. Walensky noted that “the resulting infection is more likely to have a lower viral load, be shorter in duration, and likely less risk of transmission to others.”

Walensky’s announcement has a few caveats. She warned that people who are immune compromised should speak with their doctors before giving up their masks.

The requirement to wear masks during travel — on buses, trains, planes and public transportation — still stands, Walensky said, and guidance for travel will be updated as science emerges.

She also said that “the past year has shown that this virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we need to a change to these recommendations.”

People who develop Covid-19 symptoms, even those who are vaccinated, should put their mask back on and get tested, Walensky said.

The science is clear, too, for unvaccinated people, Walensky said: “You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away.”

But once someone is fully vaccinated, she said, “you can shed your mask.