A: This question is on many minds. If you’re confused about this, you’re not alone!
The CDC guidance allows us to do away with wearing masks and physical distancing if everyone at your upcoming private get-together is either 1️⃣ fully vaccinated OR 2️⃣ ALL of these: unvaccinated, not high-risk for severe COVID-19, doesn’t live with anyone who is at high risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes; AND all the unvaccinated people already live together. At this point, just about all children are NOT fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and yes children count as we try to navigate the new CDC guidance for vaccinated people.
For families with a mix of fully vaccinated adults and unvaccinated children, this means the guidelines have to be applied differently for adults flying solo and adults with their kids along. If your kids (and everyone else in your household who is also unvaccinated) are at low risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes, you and the kids can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors, without masks.
But, if there will be other unvaccinated people there who don’t live with you–including other kids!–you still need to take the SMART precautions (physical distance, masks, air flow, restrict the number of visits, and keep em short).
Yes, this is annoying, confusing, and awkward. It’s a weird time in the pandemic. Not to mention, there’s some misinformation flying around (still) about the extent to which kids are “immune” to COVID-19.
Let’s go through some examples to illustrate how to apply this guidance.
🟣 Example 1: Carly and Miguel have two kids, and the kids are both low-risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes. Carly and Miguel are fully vaccinated, and the kids are not. They want to take the kids to see their grandmother– who is also fully vaccinated. ✅ This is OK! The unvaccinated people from a single household will be visiting with a single fully vaccinated person. All the unvaccinated people, and the people they live with, are either low-risk or fully vaccinated. The unvaccinated people all come from one household.
🟣 Example 2: Amy is fully vaccinated. Her three kids are not. They’re low-risk, and no one else in her home is high-risk for COVID-19 outcomes. Tonight, Amy is going over to some friends’ house and leaving the kids at home with her partner. The gathering will be a group of 5 women–all of them are fully vaccinated.✅ Yes! Amy is getting together with a group of people who are ALL fully vaccinated. She is not taking her unvaccinated kids along with her. There will be NO unvaccinated people there. CDC says they can safely gather indoors without masks.
🟣 Example 3: Tasha and Mike are fully vaccinated. They also have unvaccinated kids at home. Tasha’s unvaccinated dad is coming over. 🛑 SMART precautions are necessary here because we have unvaccinated people from two different households together in the same space–the kids, and Tasha’s dad. They could pass COVID-19 between them. Note: Tasha and Mike CAN go visit her dad and relax the SMART guidance because Tasha and Mike are fully vaccinated. They just can’t take the kids along without keeping their masks on.
🟣 Example 4: A group of families want to plan their summer vacation together. The adults will all be fully vaccinated. The kids will not be. They’re planning to rent a big lake house for a week. 🛑 SMART precautions or a strict quarantine for the kids is necessary before the kids–unvaccinated people across several households–can safely be indoors without masks together.
🟣 Example 5: Gar is 8 years old. His parents are divorced and share custody. He spends half his week living with his Dad and stepmom, and half his week with his Mom, stepdad, and three stepsisters. The four-parent team here has a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated status, but no one in either household is at high-risk for severe COVID-19. Gar will be visiting his fully vaccinated grandparents for a week over Spring Break. ✅ Gar is an unvaccinated person, but since he is just one unvaccinated person from a single (albeit complex) household, he can visit his two fully vaccinated grandparents without having to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.
🟣 Example 6: Issy is unvaccinated. She lives with her child who has conditions that put him in a high-risk group for COVID-19 outcomes; he’s not vaccinated either. Issy would like to go visit her fully vaccinated father and mother. 🛑 Issy should take SMART precautions, whether her son accompanies her on this visit or not. She is an unvaccinated person who lives with someone who is at high risk for severe COVID-19.
🟣 Example 7: Jack and Marsha are both fully vaccinated. They want to have a family dinner with their two adult sons and their two daughters-in-law, and their young kids. In all, there will be 6 adults, all fully vaccinated, and 4 kids from 2 different households, unvaccinated. 🛑 SMART precautions are necessary here because we have unvaccinated people from two different households together in the same space–the kids.
🟣 Example 8: Mary and Shana each have 3 year old kids. Mary and Shana are fully vaccinated. They would like to have the kids meet up for a playdate. 🛑 SMART precautions are necessary! The unvaccinated kids from two households are two unvaccinated people!
🟣 Example 9: Ms. Jones is an elementary school teacher. She’s fully vaccinated. Do the new CDC guidelines mean she doesn’t have to wear a mask in her classroom? 🛑 No. School classrooms are considered a public space, and both Ms. Jones and her students should continue wearing masks and taking other precautions in the classroom and other public spaces.
🟣 Example 10: Billie has recently had a baby and would like her mom to come over to help out. Billie is fully vaccinated; Billie’s partner is fully vaccinated; Billie’s mom is fully vaccinated; obviously the newborn is not. ✅ Because the only unvaccinated person here is the newborn, CDC says this is OK to do, indoors, without masks.
Final notes: we expect the guidance to continue evolving as we progress through the messy months ahead. Don’t spend a lot of energy trying to understand what this means for Fall back-to-school, because by then we’ll probably have new guidance. And, the guidance from the CDC is guidance, not a law. If you would prefer to continue exercising more caution, you can do that.
Read another example of how the CDC guidance and our previous post about it were used by our friend at SciMoms to decide how to plan Passover with family.