“By the time we get to April,” it will be “open season, namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” Fauci noted.
Despite that good news, he cautioned it will take “several more months” to actually deliver shots to Americans, but herd immunity could be achieved by late summer. As of Monday, more than 70 million doses have been distributed, while nearly 53 million Americans have been vaccinated. More than 14 million people have gotten their second shot.
Meanwhile, fully vaccinated Americans can now skip quarantines if they are exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, new federal guidelines say.
“Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidance posted Wednesday on its website.
There was one caveat: At least two weeks must have passed since the second shot, because it takes that long to build full immunity. But the CDC says it’s not known how long protection lasts, so people who had their last shot three months ago or more should still quarantine if they are exposed or show symptoms, the agency added.
“This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity,” the CDC said. People who have been vaccinated should still watch for symptoms for 14 days after they have been exposed to someone who is infected, the agency added.
That doesn’t mean vaccinated people should stop practicing social distancing, the CDC noted.
“At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing,” the agency said.
A global scourge
By Monday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 27.6 million while the death toll passed 485,000, according to a Times tally. On Monday, the top five states for coronavirus infections were: California with nearly 3.5 million cases; Texas with more than 2.5 million cases; Florida with over 1.8 million cases; New York with more than 1.5 million cases; and Illinois with over 1.1 million cases.