CDC updated mask recommendations for vaccinated people

Sep 6, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated masks guidance right before Labor Day, including recommending wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated when in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

These recommendations, released on Sept. 1, were made as the delta variant continues to spike in cases around the world.

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Those who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated, so CDC recommends they should continue to take all precautions — including wearing a well-fitted mask. Those who are fully vaccinated should also wear a mask in public, indoor spaces if in an area of substantial or high transmission.

As the delta variant has surged in the U.S., the CDC has continually updated mask-wearing guidance — including reversing its May recommendation that vaccinated persons no longer needed masks indoors, at the time citing scientific evidence that suggested vaccinated people remain less likely to become infected with or transmit the virus and that the vaccines had provided protection against the variants thus far (pre the emersion of the delta variant strain in the U.S.).

If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested three to five days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

Related: Las Vegas workers ordered to wear masks indoors as COVID-19 cases surge again

Only eight states and the District of Columbia are requiring masks in some or all situations for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, six states require masks in some or all situations for unvaccinated people and the remaining 36 states have no mask mandate, according to NBC News’ Mask Tracker.

Cities including Boston, Chicago; El Paso, Texas; Hartford, Connecticut; Iowa City, Iowa; Kansas City, Missouri; Philadelphia; and Raleigh, North Carolina, have reimplemented mask mandates. Cities in Texas have battled Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates (this despite the governor catching a breakthrough case of COVID-19).

CDC notes that 53% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated as of Sept. 6, 2021.

Related: US surgeon general warns of misinformation as delta variant surges

Additional reporting by Benét Wilson.

Featured image by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images. 

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