Complicating matters for employers contemplating returns to the office, the CDC on July 27 updated its position on safety recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals. Those who are fully vaccinated may participate in many of the activities that they did before the pandemic. However, to maximize protection against the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, they should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission, according to the CDC.
The updated recommendations are not intended for health care settings. The CDC also said that people should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.
Masking regardless of transmission level? According to the CDC wearing a mask is most important for people:
- With a weakened immune system;
- Who, because of age or an underlying medical condition, are at increased risk for severe disease; or
- Who have someone in their household with a weakened immune system, at increased risk for severe disease, or unvaccinated.
Where one of these circumstances apply, people may choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in their area.
About the vaccines. The CDC also said that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, including severe illness and death. The vaccines are also effective against severe disease and death from variants of the virus currently circulating in the United States, including the Delta variant. Infections occur in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant, and when they do occur, they tend to be mild.
However, people with weakened immune systems, including people who take immunosuppressive medications, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.
Notably, a fully vaccinated person who becomes infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others.
From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2021 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.
- Vaccinated workers without symptoms should wear masks indoors, especially in geographic areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels
- Unvaccinated workers without symptoms or exposure should wear masks indoors
- Unvaccinated workers with exposure need to quarantine for the recommended 7 days for a negative test or 10 days without a test
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