People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot. In that update, the CDC said that fully-vaccinated Americans could safely participate in outdoor activities without a mask, so long as those activities did not involve large crowds.
The new indoor masking guidance follows a CDC announcement two weeks ago that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask when they're outdoors unless they're in a crowd, such as attending a live performance, sporting event or parade.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic", Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing. Cuomo asked, noting that the restriction for fully vaccinated people to continue wearing masks when in crowded settings seems "too safe" and fuels arguments that the CDC has been exaggerating the threat from the virus, undermining confidence in its messaging.
Previous guidance from the CDC recommended people wear masks if they were within six feet of others outside, regardless of their vaccination status. "And that's the reason why you want to get them as much information as you possibly can".
"I think we all either feel guilty or we feel it's not time, or we see everybody else doing it", she said.
The attack by Collins, an influential senator who sometimes cooperates with Democrats, came as her state's Democratic governor joined a zoom call with President Joe Biden to talk about vaccine distribution and the pandemic.
"Good point", Biden responded. He added, "we're going to be moving on that in the next little bit".
The easing guidance could open the door to confusion, as there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those fully vaccinated and those who are not. "But we know that the more people who are vaccinated, the less cases we will have and the less chances of a new spike or additional variants emerging".
Walensky said the evidence from the US and Israel shows the vaccines are as strongly protective in real-world use as they were in earlier studies, and that so far they continue to work even though some worrying mutated versions of the virus are spreading. According to the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, a research project that tracks public opinions on the vaccines, 23% of parents with children ages 12-15 say the definitely will not have their kids vaccinated, while 30% say they will get their kids vaccinated right away.
And while some people still get COVID-19 despite vaccination, Walensky said that's rare and cited evidence that those infections tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others.
There are some caveats. She warned that people who are immune compromised should speak with their doctors before giving up their masks.