Memorial Day 2021 will hold special significance to many Americans. For millions, it will mark the first national holiday since being fully vaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50% of Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Across the country, social distancing and masking restrictions are rolling back as the U.S. returns to some sense of normalcy.
However, the pandemic isn't over yet. While cases are steadily declining as vaccinations climb, more than 20,000 people in the U.S. are still getting infected with COVID-19 each day, and an average of 400 people are still dying of the virus daily.
There's also a significant portion of Americans who have chosen not to get vaccinated. In a time of unprecedented political divisiveness in the U.S., the topic of vaccinations has divided friends and families alike.
However, recent studies have shown that those who have been vaccinated are at little risk of spreading the disease elsewhere. So, is it finally safe for those who have been vaccinated to visit with family and friends who have not gotten the shot?
In most cases, the CDC says people who are vaccinated can return to life as usual. According to the CDC website, "fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing" unless local mandates indicate otherwise.
The CDC adds that those who are fully vaccinated "have a reduced risk of transmitting" the virus to those who are not vaccinated. That means unless a person is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, those who are vaccinated are safe to meet with unvaccinated people.
What about immunocompromised people?
While getting the vaccine means it's unlikely to spread the virus, the CDC says data is limited regarding vaccine protection in immunocompromised people. Those who are immunocompromised or are taking immunosuppressants should speak with their doctor or healthcare provider about whether it's safe to meet with others.
What about children?
While all adults have been eligible to be vaccinated for several weeks, adolescents just recently got approval for Pfizer's vaccine, and young children are still likely months away from approval.
That doesn't mean children can't see unvaccinated family members, but the CDC says families should be cautious.
The CDC says it's safe for unvaccinated people to visit with vaccinated people as long as the gathering is small, it takes place outdoors and those who are not vaccinated agree to wear masks.
Small indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people of other households are considered "less safe," even when those who are unvaccinated are wearing masks.
Anyone who is fully vaccinated is unlikely to get sick or pass the virus along to others. For those who are unvaccinated, the CDC recommends keeping gatherings small, outdoors and masked.
For more information on what is safe this Memorial Day weekend, visit the CDC's website.