“As more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities fully vaccinated people can do,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing Monday.
“For example,” the CDC wrote in a statement, “fully vaccinated grandparents can visit indoors with their unvaccinated healthy daughter and her healthy children without wearing masks or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19.” Those at high risk include people over age 65, or those with underlying health problems such as heart disease or cancer.
For everyone else, “this is very welcome guidance,” said Dr. Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a former acting director of the CDC. “This opens the door for grandparents to meet with their children and grandchildren without masks, indoors, for a nice group hug.”
The new guidelines do not, however, suggest that fully vaccinated people can go back to life as it was in 2019.
In public or around others who are vulnerable to Covid-19 complications, mitigation measures should remain status quo, the CDC said. Keep up with hand washing. Wear masks in public places, and continue to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Avoid crowded areas. Seek out Covid-19 testing if symptoms develop.
What’s more, vaccination does not mean people can move freely about the country. The CDC said people should continue to follow their local health department travel recommendations.
“I want to stress that we continue to have high levels of virus around the country, and more readily transmissible variants have now been confirmed in nearly every state,” Walensky said. “While we work to quickly vaccinate people more and more each day, we have to see this through.”
That means that just about 10 percent of the U.S. population is considered fully vaccinated. The Biden administration has promised enough vaccines for every American by the end of May.
Erika Edwards is a health and medical news writer and reporter for NBC News and “TODAY.”