4

CDC Approves Even Less Masking For Vaccinated As Pfizer Shots Begin For 12-15 Year-Olds

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that Americans can safely go mask-free in most settings two weeks after their last vaccine shot.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that Americans can safely go mask-free in most settings two weeks after their last vaccine shot.
Screenshot
^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has revealed new guidelines on mask-wearing for folks fully vaccinated against COVID-19, namely that the fully vaccinated can go maskless in public and without social distancing from others in all but a few specific settings.

The news came one day after the agency echoed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in recommending that Pfizer’s two-shot coronavirus vaccine could be safely administered to children between the ages of 12 and 15.

In a virtual White House briefing Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced that two weeks after a person receives their final dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, they can safely quit wearing face masks outdoors in all scenarios, and can even ditch their face masks indoors in most places.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or social distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you have stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Walensky gave the caveats that even fully vaccinated people still need to abide by rules put in place by hospitals and other healthcare providers mandating masks and social distancing, and that “Right now, we still have the requirement to wear masks when you travel on buses, trains and other forms of public transportation, as well as airports and stations.” The recommendation to keep wearing masks when traveling stands for everyone regardless of their vaccination status, Walensky said.

This updated mask guidance was unveiled just over two weeks after the CDC’s last change to its coronavirus guidelines. In that last update, the agency told vaccinated U.S. residents they could safely quit wearing face masks in most outdoor settings as long as they weren’t at large crowded events where social distancing wouldn’t be possible, but still asked the vaccinated to keep masking indoors in most cases.

The CDC’s new masking guidelines line up with the scientific consensus that the coronavirus vaccines have proven so far to be 100 percent effective in preventing death from the virus and dramatically reduce the likelihood of infection, and seem to be designed in part to give folks still hesitant to get vaccinated more of an incentive to change course.

Walensky said the newly lax rules on masks also reflect the evidence that even in the extremely rare cases that a vaccinated person comes down with COVID-19, they are significantly less likely to spread the disease and will be protected from the worst effects of the virus.

On Wednesday, the CDC’s vaccination advisory panel authorized the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds effective immediately, following the same recommendation from the FDA earlier this week.

In Harris County, appointments to get the Pfizer vaccine are now widely available at local pharmacies, and interested kids in that age bracket can be vaccinated at NRG Park without an appointment between noon and 9 p.m. until May 18. Houston Methodist is also offering appointments for the Pfizer vaccine through its website.

State Department of Health Services associate commissioner Imelda Garcia said Wednesday that “While children are less likely than adults to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, they can be infected with the virus and spread infection in their homes and communities,” which is why “DSHS believes that promptly vaccinating the adolescents in this age group is another valuable tool that will help end the COVID-19 pandemic and have a direct and positive effect on schools and classroom learning.”

Garcia also said that children 12-15 can only be vaccinated with parental consent, given either orally or in writing, but the child’s parent does not need to be present unless required by the vaccine provider.

Walensky said that loosening the country’s mask guidelines even further was only possible “because we have an adequate supply of those vaccines for everyone 12 years and older in this country.”

“This is an exciting and powerful moment,” Walensky said.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.