More than 545,000 San Diegans over age 60, out of a total county population of more than 3.3 million people, have now received at least one dose of a vaccine. The state of California reports similar statistics. In response to this progress and that of many other states, the Centers For Disease Control announced new, more relaxed guidance about masks on May 13. The national reaction has ranged from concern over the safety of abandoning masks in any way to relief at returning to pre-pandemic behavior without restraint. Much of the nuance of this new advice has been overlooked or misinterpreted. What does the new advice from the CDC mean for seniors, their families, and their caregivers in San Diego whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated?
As of late May, San Diego County has vaccinated almost 90% of its residents with at least one dose of a vaccine, and California has vaccinated more than 50% of the state. Many seniors feel safer after receiving the shot, and freer to abandon the preventative behaviors we’ve all engaged in these last 14 months. The CDC’s new guidelines, announced May 13, certainly indicate that the vaccinated don’t need to wear masks in most situations anymore. But is it safe for seniors in San Diego home care to completely abandon all protocols when breakthrough infections, underlying conditions and the unvaccinated half of the population can still pose risks?
The latest guidance from the CDC, as announced on their website on May 13, 2021, states that:
“Fully vaccinated people can:
- Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
- Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
- Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
- Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
- Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
- Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.”
While many people, including those with family and friends in home care in San Diego, have interpreted this news to mean that masks are no longer required at all, that isn’t quite true. The unvaccinated still need to wear masks and to observe social distancing until they get the vaccine. And the vaccine doesn’t prevent Covid-19 infections, it just makes them less likely, and less severe. So vaccinated seniors and people of any age with underlying conditions need to choose their activities wisely. The CDC offers a helpful infographic that shows how to navigate the opening social environment. Click on the image to open the web page.
Vaccinated seniors, elderly in home care, and their families should proceed cautiously with relaxing their anti-Covid practices. As more and more of the population gets the vaccine, the risk of contracting Covid-19 declines, as will the need for caution. If you need assistance making a vaccination appointment for yourself or your loved one, please consult the resources we list on our blog “How Do Seniors Make Vaccination Appointments in San Diego?”