The CDC quietly changed its guidance to say even vaccinated people should get tested if they've been exposed to COVID-19

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coronavirus test
A medical worker performs a PCR test for COVID-19 on August 31, 2020, at a testing booth in Montreuil, France. Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images
  • Until Tuesday, the CDC maintained that fully vaccinated people did not need to get tested for COVID-19, unless they developed symptoms.

  • But, new data shows vaccinated people may be able to transmit the Delta variant just as well as the unvaccinated.

  • The CDC is now urging anyone who's been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 to get tested 3-5 days later, so they don't put others at risk.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A new set of guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday changes the coronavirus testing protocol for fully vaccinated people in the US.

The CDC now recommends that vaccinated people who have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested for the virus - even if they don't have symptoms.

Previously, the agency maintained that fully vaccinated people didn't need to get tested for COVID-19 unless they developed tell-tale signs of infection, like a cough, sore throat, or fever.

"We don't see any reason currently to test for those who are asymptomatic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House coronavirus briefing on July 8.

But that was before the CDC divulged new findings this week, showing that vaccinated people may be able to transmit the Delta variant just as well as the unvaccinated.

"Some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others," Walensky said Tuesday afternoon on a press call. "This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations."

Fully vaccinated people are also being asked to put their masks back on indoors in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are high. (The red and orange counties on the map below are the designated hotspots.)

a map of the US from the CDC showing which counties have the highest transmission rates
People in orange and red-colored counties should wear masks indoors in public, the CDC said Tuesday. CDC Covid Data Tracker

"If you've been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don't have symptoms," the new guidance reads. "You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive."

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