The CDC rolled out new guidelines on what fully vaccinated people can do – without wearing a mask. It includes gathering indoors with others who are also fully vaccinated.
“This is that home stretch where we need to be mindful but we do need to start taking steps forward, getting back to a life that is supportive of not just our physical health but mental health,” said Dr. Elizabeth Meade, with Swedish.
The CDC says people fully vaccinated can gather inside a private setting – like a household – mask free.
“As soon as we have a free night, we cannot wait to gather with my parents who are vaccinated, indoors, take our masks off and eat dinner around the table,” Meade said.
She said she would also be comfortable having her kindergartener join.
“It’s so interesting. We’ve been living this life for so long it still feels scary and risky to do that, but we know these vaccines are so effective – at least in this short term data,” Meade said. “For those of us who’ve been vaccinated in the last 2 to 3 months I think we can feel quite safe doing this,” she said.
Meade last had dinner with her parents in October, after both groups took COVID tests and went through a quarantine cycle.
Dr. John Dunn with Kaiser Permanente said the last time he had dinner with his parents was before the pandemic.
“It’ll give them and myself the sense of things being a little more normal, which even though it’s a baby step, feels like a big one,” Dunn said.
The CDC also says a vaccinated party can also gather with a single household of unvaccinated people with no need for anyone to wear a mask, as long as everyone unvaccinated is at a low risk for severe COVID.
For example, Dr. Dunn (vaccinated) and his wife (vaccinated) could bring their daughter (unvaccinated) to dinner at his parents’ (vaccinated) home.
But Dunn’s brother, who is unvaccinated and from another household, could not join the dinner under the new CDC guidelines.
Not everyone plans to take of advantage of these new guidelines.
Lizzie Martinez Alvarez said she’s getting her first shot on Tuesday, but says she has no plans to hang out with people outside her household unmasked any time soon.
“I’m going to keep my mask on for a while even after I’m vaccinated because everybody’s body is different,” Martinez Alvarez said.
Doctors say that’s true.
“Even fully vaccinated, we know it’s still possible to catch the virus that causes COVID-19. And it seems as though it’s possible – not necessarily likely, but possible if you catch it, to pass it on to others,” Dunn said.
Doctors are urging people to weigh the risks versus the benefits.
For example, some people have struggled more than others during the pandemic.
“I got depressed because of the lack of social,” said John Fry, who lives in Seattle.
“Those are personal decisions everyone will have to make for themselves,” Dunn said.
The CDC says all masking and distancing precautions must continue to be followed in public spaces.