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CDC Drops These Mask Rules for the Fully Vaccinated

Vaccinated people can go mask-free indoors and out, with some exceptions.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made a major announcement this afternoon, saying that if you are vaccinated, you can take your mask off in or outdoors—in most situations. Read on for her full statement about the matter at the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Symptoms That Might Secretly Be Due to COVID. Here's what Walensky said about mask wearing—make sure you read all 6 slides.


The CDC Says Vaccinated People Can Go Maskless in Most Places

Two young women at a lunch in a restaurant

"Considering…the data on vaccine effectiveness, the science on their ability to protect against circulating variants and our growing understanding of the low risk of transmission to others combined with universal access to vaccines for those 12 and older today, CDC is updating our guidance for fully vaccinated people:

  • Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and 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. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccine and our understanding of how the virus spreads. That moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated. 
  • Now, if you are immune compromised, you will most definitely want to talk to your doctor before giving up your mask. 
  • Also locations such as healthcare facilities will continue to follow their specific infection control recommendation. 
  • And lastly, this past year has shown us that this virus can be unpredictable. So if things get worse, there's always a chance we may need to make changes to these recommendations, but we know that the more people are vaccinated, the less cases we will have and the less chance of a new spike or additional variance emerging."

"If you develop symptoms," she continued, "you should put your mask back on and get tested right away."


So If You are Vaccinated, You Can Go to a Concert, Even Though It May Be Filled With Other Unvaccinated People?

Screaming African man drinking beer at the music festival

"The science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected," said Dr. Walensky. "It is the people who are not fully vaccinated in those settings, who might not be wearing a mask, who are not protected. And it is those people that we are encouraging to get vaccinated and to wear a mask and to physically distance. So if you're a vaccinated in those settings, you certainly could wear a mask if you wanted to. But we are saying in those settings, based on the silence that it is safe." (The same does not apply to travel; keep reading.)


You Still Need to Wear a Mask When Traveling

Woman wearing surgical protective mask pushing the button in a public transportation.

"Right now, we still have the requirement to wear masks when you travel on buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation," said Dr. Walensky. "As well as airports and stations. CDC, as I mentioned, is going to continue to update our guidance as policy and the science emerges right now for travel. We are asking people to continue to wear their masks."


Dr. Walensky Said That if You Are Unvaccinated, You Remain At Risk

Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital, coronavirus concept.

"The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people. 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…If you are not fully vaccinated, you are not fully protected."

"This is an exciting and powerful moment," she said. "It could only happen because of the work of so many who made sure we have the rapid administration of three safe and effective vaccines. It could also only happen because we have an adequate supply of those vaccines for everyone, 12 years and older in this country, your health, and how soon you returned to normal life before the pandemic are in your very capable hands. Once you are fully vaccinated, two weeks after your last dose, you can shed your mask"


Why Make These Mask Changes Now? What Has Changed?

Doctor Giving Older Woman Corona Virus Vaccine Injection In Hospital

"So several things have happened in the last two weeks," sais Walensky, when asked if this was the science leading the way or good PR. "In the last two weeks, the cases in this country have dropped by a third in the last two weeks. We've had increasing available vaccine and we now have available and eligible, people between the ages of 12 and 15. And we have had a coalescence of more science that has emerged just in the last week that science has been in three areas. One is the effectiveness of the vaccines in general and reward populations. One is the effectiveness against variants, which was just published last week. And then the effectiveness in preventing transmissibility."

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers


If Some Vaccinated People Want to Wear a Mask, Let Them, Says Dr. Fauci

Female Wearing Face Mask and Social Distancing

If people want to wear their masks in low risk situations, "There's nothing wrong with that," said Dr. Anthony Fauci at the briefing. "And should people be side-eying them? No, not at all. I mean, people have to make their own personal choice. What you heard from Dr. Walensky: Well, this is the recommendation, based on science, and that's just a recommendation. And when people want to do that, they at least have the science behind them. There's absolutely nothing wrong with an individual who has a certain level for risk aversion. As we know, the risk is extremely low of getting infected, if you're vaccinated, whether you're indoors or outdoors, but there were those people who don't want to take that bit of a risk, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek