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PA Department of Health amends masking orders to align with current CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people

Those who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 should continue to take precautions when in public or visiting with unvaccinated people at increased risk, the state says

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday announced it is amending its COVID-19 Universal Face Coverings order to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations for fully vaccinated people.

The state's initial order was issued on Nov. 17, 2020. The amended order went into effect on March 17, and will remain in effect until further notice, according to Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.

“The vaccines that are currently available across the state and country are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe and symptomatic COVID-19,” Beam said in a press release. “Research has shown that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others.

"However, there is still more to learn about how long protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against new variants of the virus, so some prevention measures will continue to be in place for all people, regardless of their vaccination status.”

According to the CDC, there are several activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now, as low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others.

Those activities include:

  • Visiting with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visiting with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Refraining from quarantine and testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic

However, the department said, it is important that fully vaccinated people continue to take precautions in public, like wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing, avoiding medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings, getting tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, following guidance issued by employers, and following travel requirements and recommendations.

Those who are fully vaccinated should also continue to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and follow other prevention measures when visiting unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease, the department said.

Fully vaccinated people should continue COVID-19 safety measures when visiting those have an unvaccinated household member at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease, and when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple households, the department added.

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series or more than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine, the department said.

"It is important to remember that the current mitigation Orders are still in effect and that physical distancing and capacity requirements for gatherings must still be followed," the department's release concludes.

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