On April 2, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance entitled Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. The guidance states that certain restrictions have been eased for fully vaccinated people — defined as receiving both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In addition, the CDC released guidance on Workplace Vaccination Programs on March 25, 2021.
The Interim Public Health Recommendations state that fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel. Fully vaccinated people can also visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing and refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic. However, the guidance cautions that fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing in public.
In terms of workplace-specific recommendations, the Interim Public Health Recommendations state that fully vaccinated employees of non-healthcare, high-density workplaces (e.g., meat and poultry processing and manufacturing plants) with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine following an exposure. The CDC still recommends following routine workplace screening programs and testing following an exposure.
The Workplace Vaccinations Program guidance provides recommendations to employers for structuring vaccination programs for their employees and building confidence among employees in the vaccines. The recommendations include encouraging leaders to be “vaccine champions,” and developing a communication plan to share key messages. The CDC offers communication tools for employers seeking to build confidence in the vaccines among the workforce, such as fact sheets in multiple languages and a COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers.
The guidance also suggests post-vaccination protocols. For example, the guidance recommends offering flexible, non-punitive sick leave options (e.g., paid sick leave) for employees with post-vaccination signs and symptoms. It also recommends encouraging employees to report possible side effects, specifically through a new smartphone-based tool called “v-safe,” which helps the CDC monitor people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
This guidance also has a section entitled “Reopening Your Workplace” that provides recommendations regarding best practices for employers considering reopening workplaces as vaccination rates of employees increase. The guidance urges employers to consider a number of factors prior to reopening the workplace, including the necessity for employees to be in-person rather than telework, community trends of COVID-19 exposures, the ability to practice physical distancing at the worksite, and local or state mandates for business closure restrictions.
After an employer determines that it is safe to reopen the workplace, and some portion of the workforce is fully vaccinated, the CDC continues to recommend that employers follow the Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19. This includes wearing well-fitting masks, making sure employees are staying at least six feet apart from each other, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing hands often.