Q: If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but have received one or both doses of the vaccine, do you still need to quarantine?
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A: The CDC recently issued public health recommendations for vaccinated persons. While the efficacies of the vaccines give us reasons to be optimistic (94.1% for Moderna’s and 95% for Pfizer’s), the recommendations suggest that vaccinated people still need to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you’ve been partially or fully vaccinated, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re off the hook when it comes to quarantining after being exposed to the virus. According to the CDC, there are three criteria that you need to meet before you can consider not quarantining. They include:
- Being fully vaccinated, meaning it’s been two or more weeks since you’ve received the second dose in a two-dose series or two or more weeks since you’ve received a single-dose vaccine.
- You’re within three months of the last dose of a vaccine (the second dose if you’ve received a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine).
- Remaining asymptomatic since your current COVID-19 exposure.
If you don’t meet those three qualifications, and you have to meet all three, it’s best for you quarantine for at least 10 days without testing or seven days if you’ve tested negative for COVID. If you want to take extra precautions, you can quarantine for 14 days.
While the vaccines have been proven to be highly effective, there are still a few unknowns. Right now, the medical community is still trying to get a better understanding of how long protection lasts and how effective the vaccines are in reducing transmission. Also, the efficacy of the vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is still being studied.
This is part of a larger topic of “now that I am vaccinated what can I do?” But for the time being, think of the vaccine as another layer of protection. You still need to wear a mask, maintain distance, etc., but things will get better.
— Infectious disease physician, Thomas Fraser, MD