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Guidance Guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Date: 03/16/2021
Organization: Department of Public Health
Referenced Sources: CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized in the United States are very effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe COVID-19. Until more people are vaccinated, some prevention measures will continue to be necessary for all people, even people who have been fully vaccinated. This guidance is based on CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated people.

Table of Contents

What it means to be fully vaccinated

  • People are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if they have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or a single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine more than 14 days ago.
  • This guidance does not apply to fully vaccinated individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19.

Gathering with other people

  1. Continue wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others in public.

COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting sick from COVID-19 but experts continue to conduct more studies about whether the vaccines also keep people from spreading COVID-19. Wearing masks and social distancing help lower your chance of spreading the virus to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 

  1. You may visit other people who have been fully vaccinated.

You may visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors in private settings without wearing masks or physical distancing. For example, if you are fully vaccinated, it is likely a low risk for you to invite other fully vaccinated friends to dinner inside your home.

  1. Take precautions when visiting people who have not been vaccinated.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends following CDC guidance which says you may visit in a private setting indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk of severe COVID-19 disease without wearing masks or physical distancing. For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit indoors with their unvaccinated healthy child and their healthy children without wearing masks or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19.

If the unvaccinated people are from multiple households OR are at increased risk of severe COVID-19, everyone involved should take precautions including wearing a well-fitted mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and visiting outdoors or in a well-ventilated space. For example, if a fully vaccinated individual visits with an unvaccinated friend who is seventy years old and therefore at risk of severe disease, the visit should take place outdoors, wearing well-fitted masks, and maintaining physical distance (at least 6 feet).

  1. Follow state guidance on participating in large gatherings, like weddings and concerts.

Everyone, even people who have been fully vaccinated, should adhere to current guidance on gathering limits, as well as sector-specific safety rules for activities such as concerts. Review the latest orders on Limits on Gatherings.

Isolation, quarantine and testing

  1. You do not need to follow the Massachusetts Travel Advisory.

The advisory for all visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival does not apply to people who are fully vaccinated.

  1. Stay home and get tested if you feel sick.

While vaccines are highly effective there is still a chance you can get COVID-19 even after you get the vaccine.  If you develop respiratory symptoms like runny nose, cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste, these are not side effects of the vaccine and you should consider getting tested for COVID-19 or talk to your healthcare provider. Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.  You may wish to check with your employer about how this will impact your work.

  1. Isolate if you test positive for COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19 you need to isolate. The COVID-19 vaccines will not make you test positive on viral tests.​

  1. Monitor for symptoms if you are a close contact to someone with COVID-19.

If you do not live or work in a congregate setting (e.g., correctional and detention facilities, assisted living residences, nursing and group homes), you are not required to quarantine following an exposure. However, you should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If you experience symptoms, isolate yourself from others and contact your healthcare provider or seek testing.

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NOTE: Requirements for healthcare personnel may be different. See COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance for more information.