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CDC issues guidelines for those fully vaccinated for COVID-19

Grandparents who have received vaccine can visit once again with grandchildren

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

Tuesday, March 9, (4:38 p.m.): People fully vaccinated for COVID-19, including seniors, can now visit safely with other vaccinated people and with small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances, according to new guidelines announced March 8 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” people as those two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“There is growing evidence that people who are vaccinated don’t spread COVID-19, but scientists are still trying to understand how long vaccine protection lasts,” the CDC said at a March 8 news briefing at the White House.

Under the new CDC guidelines, those who have been “fully vaccinated” can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, and indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

For now, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at elevated risk for severe cases of COVID-19 infection, or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer, told the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that these new CDC guidelines should allow grandparents to visit once again with grandchildren and other family members if the elders have been vaccinated.

But keep those masks, and those mental 6-foot markers, at hand for the foreseeable future, health officials advise.

“Keep taking precautions in public places – wear masks, stay at least 6 feet apart, avoid medium- and large-size gatherings,” said Farnitano, who also noted Tuesday that “fully vaccinated” people, including seniors, can take part in some group activities in congregate-living facilities, including communal dining.

Anna Roth, Contra Costa County’s health director, said Tuesday that 27 percent of county residents ages 16 and older had gotten their first shots as of March 9. That total includes most county residents at highest risk, including seniors 65 and older.

The guidelines CDC officials announced March 8 will be updated as conditions change, they added.

“As more people get vaccinated, levels of COVID-19 infection decline in communities, and as our understanding of COVID immunity improves, we look forward to updating these recommendations to the public,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at Monday’s White House briefing.

Additionally, with decreases in reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks, Contra Costa County could move out of the “purple tier” into the less-restrictive “red tier,” based on the number of new coronavirus cases per day, the testing positivity rate and the “health equity metric,” which helps ensure the positivity rates in certain neighborhoods that have recorded higher infection rates do not significantly exceed overall county positivity rates.

Contra Costa’s test positivity rate as of March 9 was 2.9 percent, low enough to qualify not only for the red tier but also for the even less restrictive “orange tier.” But the cases-per-day number as of that date was 7.9, high enough for Contra Costa to remain in the purple tier.

Still, Farnitano said that, if current trends continue, Contra Costa could enter the “red tier” after Tuesday, March 16, allowing some businesses to reopen or open more completely. Alameda, Solano, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties have already made the move from purple tier to red.

The CDC guidelines can be viewed at