The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. Although these guidelines are not specific to an employment setting, they are useful for employers grappling with the logistics of having both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees in a shared workspace.
Here’s what you should know…
…if an employee is fully vaccinated.
Typically, a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after either: (1) a second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or (2) a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the CDC, those who have been fully vaccinated can now safely resume activities as they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or social distancing, except where required by federal, state, or local laws, rules, and regulations.
Individuals with a condition that weakens their immune system, or that are taking medication that does so, should consult their healthcare providers about precautions they should take to protect their health.
…if a vaccinated employee is exposed to someone with COVID-19.
A fully vaccinated individual exposed to someone with COVID-19 does not need to quarantine, be restricted from work, stay away from others, or get tested unless they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. However, they should actively monitor symptoms after exposure.
Fully vaccinated individuals who develop symptoms should get tested and stay home, away from others.
…if a vaccinated employee travels for work.
Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the U.S. are required to show a negative test result from within three days of boarding their flight to the U.S. (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 within the past three months), and they should be tested again within three to five days after arrival.
To ensure compliance, employees should continue to check state and federal requirements before leaving or re-entering the U.S. so that they are aware of what to expect.
Additionally, fully vaccinated travelers must still wear a mask on public transportation and in transportation hubs, like airports.
…if you want to turn the CDC’s guidelines into policies.
The CDC update highlights the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and signals progress on our slow journey back to “normal.” Conversely, it demonstrates the risk—and accompanying precautions—that still exists for unvaccinated individuals. As always, employers should seek legal counsel in implementing new policies, as the actual impact of employer actions will vary, and the policies should be tailored to individual workplaces.
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