Why the CDC Changed the Guidelines
On December 27th 2021, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) released new quarantine guidelines. The recommended quarantine time was shortened. The newest guidelines are based on research that COVID is usually spread in the first one to two days prior to when symptoms start and two to three days after symptoms start. The CDC’s director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was quoted saying, “The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
You Have COVID Symptoms and/or You Are COVID Positive
The new guidelines state that if you have COVID or COVID symptoms you should isolate yourself for five days from the start of symptoms. After five days, if you are not having any symptoms or your symptoms are clearing up meaning you don’t have a fever for at least 24 hours then you can end your isolation. For the five days following your quartarine you must wear a mask around others.
You Are Exposed to COVID and Are Unvaccinated
If you are exposed to COVID your quarantine recommendation depends on your vaccination status. If you are unvaccinated or it has been more than six months since your last Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months since your Johnson & Johnson shot and you haven’t been boosted you should quarantine for five days, get tested on day five if possible, and then wear a mask around others for another five days.
You Are Exposed to COVID and Are Fully Vaccinated and Boosted
If you have been fully vaccinated and boosted, you do not have to quarantine after being exposed to COVID but should wear a mask around others for ten days. If you develop symptoms at any time you should quarantine, get tested, and stay quarantined until you have a negative test result. For anyone who has been exposed regardless of vaccination status, best practice would be to get tested on day five after the exposure if possible.
The Best Protection Against COVID
Even with the COVID numbers on the rise, being vaccinated, boosted, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and good hand hygiene is the best protection available. Research has shown that two doses of the vaccine is estimated to be 35% effective against the virus. While being fully vaccinated and boosted is estimated to be 75% effective against the virus. Even though vaccination is not 100% effective it will help protect against severe cases of the virus, hospitalizations, and death. Currently the CDC recommends everyone five years old and up should be vaccinated and everyone sixteen year old and up should be vaccinated and boosted. Being vaccinated provides the best protection against COVID.