Those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are safe without masks both indoors and outdoors, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a COVID-19 briefing at the White House Thursday.
Walensky said the COVID-19 vaccine also makes it safe to stand within six feet of one another without masks, meaning vaccinated individuals do not have to worry about social distancing.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," she said.
The updated CDC guidance still urges vaccinated people to wear masks on planes, public transportation and in healthcare settings.
Walensky's advice comes along with updated CDC guidance that's been supported by three studies, including one in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed the coronavirus vaccine is 97% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 infection and 86% effective against asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.
Of the few "breakthrough" positive cases showing up in vaccinated people, Walensky said the illness has a "lower viral load," is shorter in duration and less infectious than it would be without the vaccine.
As of May 13, official CDC guidance advises fully vaccinated people can:
• Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
• Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
• Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
• Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
• Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
• Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible