Can Vaccinated People Gather in Small Groups Without Face Masks?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist
two elderly woman socialize after being vaccinated

Q: If I’m fully vaccinated, can I gather with friends and family who are also already fully vaccinated?

A: Yes, but there are stipulations. The CDC recently announced guidelines on public health recommendations for Americans fully vaccinated from COVID-19. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the second-dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or at least two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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People who are fully vaccinated can now attend small, indoor gatherings without masks with others who are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals may also have small gatherings with others from a single household who are not vaccinated – as long as no one in the household is considered high-risk.

In addition, fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine or get tested if they have been in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19 and if they are asymptomatic. However, if the fully vaccinated person has been around someone who is sick and they are experiencing symptoms themselves, they should get tested and stay away from others.

It’s important to note that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear face masks and maintain physical distance while in public spaces, as well as avoid medium and large gatherings. They should also avoid being in direct contact with unvaccinated people from multiple households as well as unvaccinated people at high-risk or those living with unvaccinated people at high-risk.

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There is still much to learn about how effective the vaccines are against the COVID-19 variants and whether or not the vaccines keep people from spreading the virus. Early data shows there may be a reduction in transmission among vaccinated people. For that matter, it’s always a good precaution to mask up, distance and observe precautions when you’re unsure. We will continue to watch for updated guidance from the CDC as more data becomes available.

– Infectious disease specialist, Kristin Englund, MD.

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