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Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says

US health body allows meetings without face covering or social distancing, but stresses need to keep masks on in public, avoid large gatherings

Vanessa Guerra (right), a special education teacher, receives a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Kelly Mendoza, in Inglewood, California, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Vanessa Guerra (right), a special education teacher, receives a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Kelly Mendoza, in Inglewood, California, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

NEW YORK (AP) — Fully-vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials.

The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new guidelines on Monday.

The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things that they had done before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.

“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a statement.

Granby kindergarten school teacher Christina Kibby (right) receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Madeline Acquilano, at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised vaccinated people to get tested if they develop symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 30 million Americans — or only about nine percent of the US population — have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to the CDC.

Authorized vaccine doses first became available in December, and they were products that required two doses spaced weeks apart. Since January, a small and growing number of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and have been asking questions like: Do I still have to wear a mask? Can I go to a bar now? Can I finally see my grandchildren?

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