If You're Up to Date on COVID-19 Vaccinations, You Do Not Need to Quarantine After Exposure to the Virus

"Up to date" is the key phrase here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidance in early 2022, doing away with quarantining for vaccinated people who have been exposed to the virus and show no symptoms.

Previously, the CDC recommended that all people, except for those who'd had COVID-19 in the three months before exposure and showed no symptoms, stay at home and away from others for up to 14 days.

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So, how do you know if you qualify for the exception? Your vaccinations must be "up to date." According to the CDC, this means that you've received all the recommended doses in your primary vaccine series (two shots for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and one for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine), as well as all boosters, when eligible.

And you can't have developed symptoms. If you have, you'll need to quarantine and get tested. If you don't develop symptoms and are not required to quarantine, the CDC recommends that you still get tested at least five days after your exposure to the virus to make sure you aren't infected.

"This corresponds with the guidance we give those who have recently recovered and have immunity," said Amesh A. Adalja, MD, infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland.

While COVID-19 vaccines do help prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death, they are not 100% effective at preventing infection, according to the CDC. So, you should still watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days following exposure, and if you experience any, you should quarantine and get tested.

Also important: While you may dodge quarantine if you've been vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you comply with all safety protocols that limit disease transmission, including wearing face masks when appropriate, practicing good hand hygiene, testing routinely and before you may be with others, and avoiding close contact if you have symptoms.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up to date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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