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Does it mean that the pandemic is over for those vaccinated?

What does it mean to remove the use of masks from vaccinated people? 1:57

(CNN) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) abruptly changed its guidance on face masks and social distancing on Thursday, saying that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to wear masks indoors. and they don’t have to keep their distance from others.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing at the White House. “We have all longed for this moment when we can return to some sense of normalcy.”

Walensky said that science in three areas led to change.

“One is the effectiveness of vaccines in general and in a real world population. Another is effectiveness against variants, which was published last week, and then effectiveness in preventing transmissibility, ”Walensky said.

That is in addition to a decrease in new cases of covid-19 and the widespread availability of vaccines and access to them.

One caveat to keep in mind: People with compromised immune systems should check with their doctor before going maskless, even if they’re fully vaccinated, the CDC said.

As of Thursday, nearly 36% of Americans were fully vaccinated, and nearly 46% of adults were fully vaccinated.

However, the change in pattern raised many questions. Here’s a look at some of them.

Does this mean we can get back to normal?

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the pandemic is over, for those who are fully vaccinated, the change in regimen means a return to something very close to normal, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, to CNN after the announcement.

“Being able to go without a mask, both indoors and outdoors, is really a big step in that direction,” Fauci said. “I would not want to declare victory prematurely, but I am saying that this is clearly a step in the direction we want to go.”

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume the activities you did before the pandemic,” the CDC says in its guidelines.

“It’s an amazing step forward,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “It says we are on the right track.”

Does this mean that I can throw away my masks?

Masks will continue to be needed for a while, as local, institutional, and government regulations take precedence over CDC guidance.

As the CDC says on its website: “Fully vaccinated individuals can resume their activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing themselves, except as required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local businesses. and places of work ”.

Masks will continue to be required for travel, as the Biden administration’s transportation mask mandate will remain in effect until Sept. 13, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration told CNN on Thursday.

Institutions and businesses could also maintain the mask requirements, as could states and cities that still have them.

“Clearly, there will be institutions that are going to say, and it could be the airlines, we know that some universities also say it, if you are not vaccinated, you will not come to campus for face-to-face classes, and there will be some institutions that could be saying same thing, ”Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Masks will continue to be needed for healthcare settings, the CDC said.

Fully vaccinated long-term care facility residents and their visitors can visit in a private room without masks, according to Cristina Crawford, senior manager of public affairs for the American Health Care Association.

Unvaccinated people, including children, should also wear a mask to protect themselves and others from contracting the coronavirus, of course.

Will more relaxed guidance lead to more people getting vaccinated?

CDC: Vaccinated should no longer wear masks in the US 1:44

Giving vaccinated people the freedom to go mask-less and get closer to others is exactly the kind of reward that experts have been asking for as real incentives to get vaccinated.

“The incentive to get vaccinated should be that you can go to your workplace, that you can go to movie theaters and restaurants,” George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and co-director of the Center for Behavioral Decision Research, told CNN. , ahead of Thursday’s announcement by the CDC. And maybe you don’t have to wear a mask all the time.

NIH’s Collins said that while we should all feel “really good about this” ad, there are still “a lot of people who haven’t gotten the first dose.”

I hope this encourages you to see this as a wonderful opportunity to be released, as I understand it. I don’t have a mask, I’m smiling, I’m looking at other people’s faces that I haven’t seen in a while.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said her state “welcomes this good news” from the CDC.

“Finally, we are seeing some encouraging and common sense guidance from the CDC,” Ivey said in a statement. “In addition to the fact that the covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, it also allows us to do the things we love and enjoy.”

It may lead to more people getting vaccinated, but that’s not why the CDC changed its guidelines, Walensky said.

“This can serve as an incentive for some people to get vaccinated, but that’s not the purpose here,” Walensky said.

If the CDC’s announcement isn’t enough to get people vaccinated, here’s another reason: The Cleveland Clinic said Thursday that more than 99% of people with COVID-19 have been in their hospitals since January 1 and mid-January. April were not fully vaccinated.

How will we know if someone has been vaccinated?

Without a vaccine passport or other type of certification, in a public setting, no one will be able to distinguish the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said she was “shocked by the CDC’s abrupt change in its guidelines for vaccinated people.”

“While I agree that vaccinated people can choose what they want to do, this only works if there is a way to check vaccination status. Otherwise, what will prevent the unvaccinated from endangering everyone? ”Wen tweeted.

“Essentially, the CDC today removed the masking mandates and social distancing,” Wen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “They are saying that everything is a code of honor from now on. So it will actually be a disincentive.

“There are many people who never wanted to get vaccinated, never wanted to wear masks,” Wen said. “Now, they could just say, ‘Oh, I’m vaccinated.’

But stopping people outside the grocery store or bowling alley to search for a vaccine card probably won’t work, Fauci said.

“I think there will be a refusal against questioning someone when they come in, because you can never validate or prove that they are telling you the truth,” Fauci said.

And questioning people would be “virtually a functional equivalent of a vaccine passport, and I don’t think that’s going to work,” Fauci said.

CNN’s Sandee LaMotte, Maggie Fox, John Bonifield, Elizabeth Cohen, and Pete Muntean contributed to this report.

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