The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer recommend masks for fully vaccinated people under most situations, according to new guidance announced Thursday.
Among the new set of guidelines for those who’re protected against COVID-19 will be a no mask requirement or social distancing of six feet, indoors or outdoors including in crowds, the agency said. This is a direct recommendation to align with the expectations for public transportation, along with schools and businesses that plan to reopen in the coming weeks.
The CDC cited data over the last few months that shows vaccines are working to slow the spread of the virus and continue to protect against non-specific variants. It also found data to support claims that vaccinated people transmit the virus at a much lesser rate than those who’re not protected.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave her opinion on the announcement at a White House briefing Thursday afternoon.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing themselves,” she said. “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,” she added.
Over 117 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. A little over one-third of the U.S. population with Pfizer recently announcing steps to have children between the ages of 12 and 15 vaccinated in the near future. As it stands now, only individuals above the age of 16 are cleared to be inoculated.
Although, mask enforcement for non-vaccinated people will be challenging in a public setting. It will likely revamp the discussion on vaccine passports which a handful of states have already decided to ban. But growing health concerns and curbing transmission rates may push the CDC, along with the Biden administration, to go further with pushing vaccinations efforts across the nation.