Fully Vaccinated? No Mask Needed with Exceptions

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

CDC’s Updated Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People

On May 13, 2021, the CDC updated their Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.  The CDC states the science shows that breakthrough COVID-19 illness in fully vaccinated individuals is limited and most breakthrough infections resulting in asymptomatic or mild disease. Hence, fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask indoors and do not need to socially distance, “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

What is the Definition of Fully Vaccinated?

Full vaccination occurs ≥2 weeks after a person has received the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or ≥2 weeks after a person has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
 

What Can Fully Vaccinated People Stop Doing?

  • Stop wearing masks and social distancing, except as “required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
  • Stop testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after domestic travel
  • Stop testing before leaving the U.S. for international travel (unless required by the destination)
  • Stop self-quarantining after arriving back in the U.S.
  • Stop testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
  • Stop quarantining following a known exposure, if asymptomatic
  • Stop routine screening testing, if feasible

Where Are Masks Still Required for All?

Please keep in mind these CDC Guidelines do not apply in medical offices yet. Medical offices are places of higher risk. 
Other locations where mask use is still required are hospitals, other medical facilities, nursing homes, prisons, homeless shelters, and public travel.  In addition, it is still recommended that masks be worn in environments where there is a dense population, for example, at concerts.
 

What about Travel?

“All travelers are required to wear a mask on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”
 

What about International Travel?

  • Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before leaving the U.S. unless required by their destination.
  • Fully vaccinated air travelers coming to the United States from abroad, including U.S. citizens, are still required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they fly to the U.S.
  • International travelers arriving in the U.S. are still recommended to get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after travel regardless of vaccination status.
  • Fully vaccinated travelers don’t need to self-quarantine in the U.S. after international travel.

What If I’m Fully Vaccinated, Symptomatic, & I Get COVID-19?

The risk of breakthrough infection is very low for fully vaccinated people.  However, if this occurs, the fully vaccinated person who has COVID-19 symptoms should:
  • isolate themselves from others
  • be medically evaluated for a COVID-19 infection
  • get tested for COVID-19 infection
  • inform their doctor that they are fully vaccinated

What If I’m Fully Vaccinated, Asymptomatic, & Am Exposed to Someone Who Has/Might Have COVID-19?

The risk of breakthrough infection is very low for fully vaccinated people.  Isolation, quarantining, work restrictions, and COVID-19 testing are not required after exposure to someone who either has or is suspected of having COVID-19.  However, it is still necessary for them to self-monitor for 14 days after the exposure.
 

What If I’m Fully Vaccinated, Asymptomatic, Am Exposed to Someone Who Has/Might Have COVID-19, & I Work in a Prison or Homeless Shelter?

COVID-19 testing is required.  However, isolation, quarantining, work restrictions are not required after exposure to someone who either has or is suspected of having COVID-19.
 

What If I’m Fully Vaccinated, Asymptomatic, & Not Exposed to Someone Who Has/Might Have COVID-19?

Fully vaccinated people without COVID-19 symptoms, without known COVID-19 exposure “should be exempted from routine screening testing programs, if feasible.”
 

What If I’m Not Fully Vaccinated?  

The CDC recommends continued mask use and social distancing for anyone who is not fully vaccinated.  Masks are recommended for those children and adults, ages 2-years-old and up who are not fully vaccinated. Discuss your concerns about the vaccine with your doctor. Please consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine.  It is life-saving for the person vaccinated and the people around them.
 

When Will Fully Vaccinated People Be Able to Stop Wearing Masks in Your Office?

We will be able to relax some of our office’s mask requirements for fully vaccinated individuals, once the Overall New Percent Positivity is consistently (at least 2 weeks) <5% in BOTH Pasco & Hillsborough counties, as we serve both of these counties in Florida. New Percent Positivity refers to the percent of the population that has tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time in the past two weeks.  
 
Currently, as of 05/12/21, Pasco County’s Overall New Percent Positivity has been below 5% for two days. Hillsborough County’s Overall New Percent Positivity is 6.26%.  In addition, Pediatric Overall Percent Positivity has continued to increase through May 2021. Pasco’s Pediatric Overall Percent Positivity is 13.4% and Hillsborough’s is 14.7%. The Florida Department of Health does not release Pediatric New Percent Positivity. As always, we are watching these numbers very closely.
 

Do Children Still Need to Wear a Mask in Your Office?

Children ages 2-years-old and up and their parents who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 need to wear a mask throughout their office visit.  COVID-19 vaccine is not available for children 2 to 11-years-old at this point.  Trials are ongoing for children ages 6 months to 11-years-old.  The trials are expected to yield results in September 2021.  Please stay tuned.  We will keep you posted as updates occur.
 

How Can I Request to Not Wear a Mask in Your Office?

Fully vaccinated individuals that show their COVID-19 vaccination status as fully vaccinated will not need to use a mask in our office. For those who are uncomfortable sharing their vaccine information, mask use will be necessary throughout the visit.
 

How Can I Get More COVID-19 Updates?

Please feel free to search this blog for general non-COVID-19 health updates like car seat safety.  COVID-19 information changes daily.  We are happy to serve our community and others in this rapidly changing world we currently live in.  Please consider following us on our Small World Pediatrics Facebook page for frequent updates.  We also have weekly Facebook Live Videos on Sundays at Noon focusing on COVID-19 discussions where this week we discuss many updates and answer questions, including but not limited to the CDC’s mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.
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About Nancy M. Silva, MD, FAAP

I'm a Board Certified Pediatrician. I've been in practice since 2000. I'm happily married with two children. I graduated Medical School from the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, NY. My Pediatric Residency training was at University of South Florida, College of Medicine. I've been in private practice since 2000. As a medical student, I had the privilege to care for children at Kings County Hospital & Downstate Medical Center in urban Brooklyn. As a resident, I cared for children at Tampa General Hospital & All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. These experiences helped shape the Pediatrician I am today.

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