Vaccinated people can bypass quarantine after being exposed, travel restrictions remain

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its quarantine guidance for vaccinated people. Americans fully vaccinated, plus two weeks, can skip the 10-day quarantine if they meet three specific criteria.

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All three criteria must be met to bypass quarantine:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥ two weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series, or ≥ two weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

“That allows people to have a little more freedom,” explained Dr. Toni Brayer, internal medicine doctor. “Even if they have an exposure to someone in their family, they can still go to school, they can still be out, they can go to work, healthcare workers can go to work.”

Health experts said the three-month window is in place because the vaccine is so new and they expect the CDC to expand it in the near future.

The guidance is aimed at exposure quarantine and not travel quarantine.

All international travelers coming to the United States are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before entry and the same goes for travel to Hawaii.

Local leaders said the news is promising, however.

“This was what we needed to hear from the CDC,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “Because this demonstrates that they’re not worried about people, once they’ve been vaccinated, they’re not worried that they’re going to catch COVID, they’re not worried that they’re really going to spread COVID.”

“This is definitely a great breakthrough that has happened, and I think it’s going to ultimately lead towards being able to move more freely, with less restrictions,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.

It will be up to Gov. David Ige, the Department of Health and the Attorney General’s office to ease travel restrictions and allow vaccinated people to enter the state without a COVID-19 test.

Green said, the plan is to start locally with inter-island travel first.

“If they’ve been vaccinated, they do not need the test, then we’ll move to mainland travel to the islands. And I’ve made that coincide with when we have most of our people in 1C vaccinated,” Green explained. “So again, we are safe, and they’re safe, and then our economy is safe.”

Dr. Green and Dr. Brayer said, there will be fewer COVID-19 cases in the community as more and more people get vaccinated.

“So, as we get through 1B, our most vulnerable people are vaccinated and immune, as we get through 1C, our most vulnerable people plus a ton of workers plus 65 to 74 years and older will be immune. So, at that point, even if people did pose a threat, for spreading the virus, it would be only spreading in a minor way to people who will not get that sick,” Green said. “And having said that, I still want them to be vaccinated or get a pretest, so it’s layer upon layer of safety for our people in Hawaii.”

Dr. Brayer said, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% effective against COVID and against having symptoms and getting severe disease but it is uncertain still if vaccinated people can transmit the virus.

“We do know that if you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to get symptomatic, you’re probably not going to end up in the hospital with COVID-19, but could you still have enough of the virus where you might transmit it? We don’t know. And for that reason, even if you’ve been vaccinated, you still need to mask you still need to keep your social distance, avoiding indoor spaces with lots of people talking and making lots of noise,” Dr. Brayer said.

Officials recommend vaccinated people hold on to their vaccination cards or take a picture of it in case you lose it as proof of vaccination.

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