February 19, 2021

CDC Issues New Guidance on Quarantine of Fully Vaccinated Persons

On February 10, 2021 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new recommendations for those who have been fully vaccinated by the COVID-19 vaccine. Persons who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine when they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, so long as the following three-part criteria have been met:

  1. They have received all doses of the vaccine and at least 2 weeks have passed since they received the last dose in the series.
  2. They are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series. 
  3. They have remained asymptomatic since the most recent COVID-19 exposure.

This is encouraging news for many employers. The CDC states, “Although the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from vaccinated persons to others is still uncertain, vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic COVID-19...”.

It should be noted that available vaccines are currently administered in two doses. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are administered over a 21-day interval, while the Moderna vaccine is a 28-day interval. A single dose vaccine has not yet been authorized by the FDA, though Johnson & Johnson is anticipated to receive EUA approval for a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in early March 2021.

Despite not having to quarantine, fully vaccinated persons should still watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for two weeks following an exposure, according to the CDC. Vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance for protecting themselves and others including mask-wearing, social distancing of at least 6 feet from others, frequent handwashing, and routinely disinfecting surfaces.

Cities with qualified healthcare professionals may apply this new CDC criteria for vaccinated healthcare personnel with higher-risk exposures, including first responders.

Kentucky continues to follow the Governor’s four-phase vaccination plan. Vaccine doses have already been made available to Kentuckians in Phases 1A and 1B of the plan – categories which include first responders and those over the age of 70.

The next part of Phase 1, which will be starting very soon, is Phase 1C and will include those over age 60; all essential workers, such as public transit, water and wastewater employees; and anyone age 16 or older with CDC highest COVID-19 risk conditions. A list of essential workers and COVID-19 risk conditions can be found on the Team Kentucky website.

Phase 2, which includes anyone age 40 or older, is not expected to begin until Kentucky has sufficient vaccine supplies to support such a broad vaccination effort. Nevertheless, for those employees who have already been fully vaccinated, the ability to continue work without quarantine is a hopeful sign of an eventual return to a normal working environment.

All previous CDC guidance for employers on COVID-19 testing remains in effect as outlined on the KLC COVID-19 Resources Page. For more information on COVID-19 vaccination and testing, please refer to the CDC website and discuss your situation with your city attorney and the local health department.

If you have any questions about this or any other personnel-related matter, please contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services manager or Justin Hocking, personnel services attorney.