CDC Says Vaccinated People Should Still Wear Masks During Holiday Season to Minimize COVID Risk

Masking at indoor gatherings for all above the age of 2 — regardless of vaccination status — is advised

covid holiday
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With the holiday season in sight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people — regardless of vaccination status — mask up during celebrations to minimize the risk of COVID-19.

While the CDC believes the "best way" to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is for those who are eligible for the vaccine to get the shot, masking at indoor gatherings for all above the age of 2 is advised, according to new guideline released on Friday.

"Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated," the CDC website reads. "Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission."

The agency believes extra precautions — such as testing for COVID-19 before a gathering — should be considered when planning to intermingle groups of people from multiple households.

"People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose," the CDC says. "They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider."

covid holiday

Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces is also highly encouraged, especially for people who are traveling.

Those who have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should get tested, according to the CDC, and people who are sick or have symptoms should not host or attend a gathering.

This advisory comes as the highly contagious delta variant continues to drive nearly all the COVID-19 cases in the United States.

According to a recent study, the variant more than doubles the risk of hospitalization. All three of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — prevent hospitalization or death in more than 90 percent of cases.

As of Friday, 56.8 percent (188.6 million) of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC, while 65.8 percent (218.3 million) have received at least one dose.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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