On Dec. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed the recommended time for quarantine from 10 days to five days for people after they test positive for COVID-19.
Across social media, many expressed confusion about the CDC’s guidelines, and whether there is a distinction for quarantine recommendations based on vaccination status (examples here, here, here, here).
The CDC and the World Health Organization say being vaccinated provides greater protection against severe illness and hospitalization and helps reduce the likelihood of someone spreading COVID-19, but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
Do the new CDC quarantine guidelines for those who test positive for COVID-19 apply to vaccinated individuals only?
No, the latest CDC quarantine guidelines for those who test positive for COVID-19 do not apply to only vaccinated individuals.
WHAT WE FOUND
On Dec. 27, the CDC announced an update to their COVID-19 isolation and quarantine policy for the general public.
The latest CDC rules state anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should:
- Stay home for 5 days.
- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you can leave your house.
- Continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days.
- If you have symptoms, stay home until symptoms or a fever disappears.
For those exposed to the virus (not who test positive), the guidelines differ for vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals. The CDC posted a video to Facebook of the quarantine scenarios suggested for those who have been exposed.
Governing bodies across the globe were already making their own rules to shorten different terms of quarantine based on vaccination status.
On Dec. 24, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced fully vaccinated critical workers could return to work five days after testing positive, as long as they are asymptomatic and had not had a fever for at least 72 hours. Those workers would also have to wear a mask while working.
In England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on Dec. 22 reduced the number of isolation days following a positive COVID-19 test from 10 days to seven for vaccinated individuals. There is no change to the guidance for the unvaccinated, who should self-isolate for a full 10 days.
Prior to the rule change, some businesses like Delta Air Lines, asked the CDC to lessen isolation time for vaccinated employees, citing growing staffing pressure.
A letter posted to the Delta Air Lines website on Dec. 21, signed by Bastian and two Delta medical officers, asked for the CDC to “reconsider the current guideline for 10 days of isolation in fully vaccinated individuals who experience breakthrough COVID-19 infections.”
The letter called for a five-day isolation period “from symptom onset” for those who may experience an infection. The letter only referenced a change in protocol for those who had been fully vaccinated and did not mention any change in protocol for those who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.