CDC - Vaccinated People Can Avoid Quarantine After COVID Exposure February 11, 2021

Written by MSDC Staff

In a major boost to medical practices, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that people who have received the full course of COVID-19 vaccines can skip the standard 14-day quarantine.

In a change to their guidance, CDC announced that individuals with an exposure to a suspected or confirmed COVID case do not need to quarantine if:

  • They are 2 or more weeks past their final vaccine dose (meaning second shot for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines)
  • Are within 3 months following their last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the exposure

The CDC's website notes:

[I]ndividual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission, and facilitate the direction of public health resources to persons at highest risk for transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others. This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity, which eases implementation.

The guidance does note that even if not quarantining, the individual should still monitor themselves for 14 days for symptoms. Vaccinated individuals also should continue to follow PPE and safety precautions in place if healthcare workers.

The change is good news for healthcare facilities who struggle with staff shortages due to staff quarantining. The guidance specifically notes: 

These criteria could also be applied when considering work restrictions for fully vaccinated healthcare personnel with higher-risk exposures, as a strategy to alleviate staffing shortages. Of note, exposed healthcare personnel would not be required to quarantine outside of work.

As an exception to the above guidance no longer requiring quarantine for fully vaccinated persons, vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings should continue to quarantine following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; outpatients should be cared for using appropriate Transmission-Based Precautions. This exception is due to the unknown vaccine effectiveness in this population, the higher risk of severe disease and death, and challenges with social distancing in healthcare settings.

MSDC will closely track how DC Health's guidance will change based on these updates.