CDC: No need to physically distance if you're fully vaccinated

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  • The CDC updated its guidance Thursday, saying fully vaccinated people don't have to mask up indoors.

  • So far, about 35% of Americans (117,647,439 people) are fully vaccinated.

  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky also said fully vaccinated people could forget the 6-foot rule.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidance Thursday, saying fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors or physically distance from others.

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor or outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing.

This guidance is the latest loosening of mask orders. In March, fully vaccinated people were told they could gather indoors maskless with other vaccinated people. Then, they were told they could take off their masks outside, regardless of whom they were around.

The new rules show how confident the US government is in the potential for the three COVID-19 vaccines available - from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson - to stop the spread of the virus.

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

A person is fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna shot or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, 35% of the US population, or 117,647,439 people, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Keep your mask handy

This new guidance isn't a reason to throw away your mask.

Mask mandates are still in place in many private businesses. They will be hard-pressed to determine who is vaccinated and who isn't, especially in the states that have refused to mandate "vaccination passports" - vaccine cards that act as proof of vaccination.

People who are not fully vaccinated should use masks to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, especially in indoor settings, where the virus can float in the air and there is less of an opportunity to distance from others.

And while the US has vaccinated many people very quickly since the first dose was given in December, health officials are monitoring the emergence coronavirus variants. Walensky said Americans needed to accept that this is a fluid situation and the guidance could change in the event of a resurgence in cases.

It's also unclear how long vaccine protection lasts against COVID-19, but researchers are already gearing up for vaccine boosters, with promising results.

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