New CDC Guidance for the Fully Vaccinated (3/12/21)
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator
Dear Members of the Yale Community,
One year ago, I, like many of you, left my office and students departed campus not knowing when we would return. Governor Lamont had declared the COVID-19 pandemic a public health crisis and ordered non-essential businesses to close. None of us could have imagined then what the coming year would bring: the staggering numbers of illnesses and deaths, the dizzying proliferation of masks and sanitizers, the requirements for testing and tracing and quarantine, the restrictions on travel and gatherings, and the seemingly endless stretches of isolation, despite the ever-present Zoom and FaceTime.
Now that rates of infection and hospitalizations have declined from recent peaks and vaccinations are on the upswing, there is hope for a coming year that looks brighter than the one we’ve just experienced. While pandemic lockdowns were necessarily sudden, re-emergence—especially in light of concerns about the rise of COVID-19 variants—requires cautious, incremental actions. One such action was announced earlier this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In this week’s message, I will explain the CDC’s new guidance, provide a reminder about vaccination availability, and celebrate our COVID-19 screening team.
I am now fully vaccinated. What does the CDC advise?
Earlier this week the CDC issued guidance that allows individuals who have been fully vaccinated to resume certain pre-pandemic activities. While this guidance does not allow for an expansive relaxation of restrictions, it is an important first step. More guidance will likely follow if we continue to be diligent in adhering to health and safety practices and if we get vaccinated when the opportunity arises.
More specifically, the CDC guidance states that, if you are two weeks beyond your shot of a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson/Janssen) or two weeks beyond your second shot of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), you may:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;
- In accordance with previously issued CDC guidance, refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure to a person with COVID-19 if you are asymptomatic.
Because there is still more to learn about the effectiveness of the vaccines and more time needed to achieve optimal levels of immunity, the CDC guidance also states that you must still:
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers; for the Yale community this guidance is included in our COVID-19-related university policies;
- Wear masks and practice physical distancing in public settings, including on the Yale campus and in Yale buildings;
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and follow other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease;
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and follow other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households;
- Avoid non-essential travel and medium or large in-person gatherings;
- Get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (or if you are required to have routine asymptomatic testing in accordance with Yale policy).
I still don’t have a vaccination appointment. What can I do?
With the recent expansion of vaccination eligibility to all Connecticut residents who are 55 years of age or older, supplies of vaccine remain constrained relative to demand. However, with three vaccines now in use and the federal government’s efforts to accelerate vaccine production, more vaccine arrives in Connecticut every week and appointments open on a daily basis. I encourage you to check frequently for appointment openings at multiple sites throughout the state. If you need assistance in scheduling an appointment you may contact the Campus COVID Resource Line (203-432-6604) or the state’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line (877-918-2224); both are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.
Celebrating our COVID-19 Screening Team
Very soon after we departed campus last March, the university began to explore how we might bring students and activities back to campus in the summer and fall. Our public health advisors determined that being able to detect COVID-19 infections quickly, through testing, would be essential to our goal of restoring on-campus life. As has been the case with so many of our pandemic initiatives, individuals from all parts of the campus came together with energy and commitment to create a new program, the COVID-19 screening program. With the expertise of facilities and IT staff, testing booths were built and scheduling systems were put in place. Hospitality employees shifted their focus from meal preparation to administering twice weekly tests to undergraduate students. This week, as they administer the 250,000th COVID-19 test at Yale, I hope you will join me in conveying thanks and admiration to the leadership and members of the COVID-19 Screening program whose extraordinary efforts have made an on-campus experience possible for so many.
I hope that many of you have been able to take advantage of the warmer weather to spend time safely outside, as this week’s sunshine reminds us that spring is just around the corner.
Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator