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New CDC guidelines on fully vaccinated people and masking apply to private gatherings, not public

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah referenced the behavior of fully vaccinated people during last week's briefing, saying the vaccine may limit virus transmission.

PORTLAND, Maine — 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 unvaccinated people considered at low-risk for severe diseases, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday. It is the first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people.

"Today, I think we've begun to describe what a world looks like when we move beyond COVID-19," said Andy Slavitt, Senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

What does the CDC consider 'fully vaccinated?'

The CDC considers someone "fully vaccinated" two weeks after they have received both doses of a two-dose series, like either the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or two weeks since their single-dose vaccines, like Johnson and Johnson.

In Maine, as of March 8, 20.12 percent of people received the first dose, and 11.35 percent of people received a second dose.

"The vaccines are that good," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said on Tuesday, March 2 during a press briefing. "That's just an example of how effective these vaccines are and how they all enable us to turn the page on the COVID journey that we've all been on."

The new guidance also says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine or test even after they've been exposed to someone who is positive -- so long as the vaccinated person shows no symptoms.

While this is all great news in our progress against the virus -- this guidance is for people in the privacy of their homes.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said last week that DHHS is not changing any public guidance any time soon.

"We're not going to be able to be in public spaces and know which person has been fully vaccinated and who hasn't been," Lambrew said. "It will be a long time before our public policy can catch up."