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CDC relaxes mask recommendation for fully vaccinated individuals

Multigenerational family sitting together, smiling, without masks Photo: Getty Images

This content is accurate as of the date of publication.

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can breathe easier now, literally, under new guidelines issued March 8 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who are fully vaccinated can now go mask-less in certain situations.

For the purposes of these guidelines, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after receiving the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after  receiving a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen ).

The recommendations apply to people in non-health care settings. Visitors to VCU Health treatment facilities are still expected to wear masks. 

Fully vaccinated people can now:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing

  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing

  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if they have no symptoms of COVID-19

Fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing

  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease

  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households

  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings

  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers

  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

The CDC guidelines will be updated and expanded based on the level of community spread of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated, and the rapidly evolving science on COVID-19 vaccines. Continue to check the CDC page for changes.

“It’s been a difficult year under the pandemic, with restrictions on every aspect of our lives — from wearing face masks to how close we can get to our friends and loved ones,” said VCU Health infectious disease specialist Gonzalo Bearman, M.D. “With increased vaccine supply and thousands of people getting vaccinated every day, we’re turning the corner. I think we can all see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.”

For more information

To learn more about COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 news center. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, in particular, visit our vaccine page and sign up for vaccine email updates.