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Inside CDC's mask guidance for vaccinated adults

A couple in a grocery store wearing face masks.

COVID-19 is still a threat in the U.S. And due to the more contagious Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated mask guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated.

What are the new guidelines?

In areas with substantial or high virus spread, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated adults wear masks in public indoor places. You can visit CDC's COVID Data Tracker to check your area's status.

Why did they make a change?

Vaccines have helped lower the rates of severe illness and death from COVID-19. And they've been shown to work well against the Delta variant of the virus.

Yet breakthrough cases of COVID-19 do occur in fully vaccinated people. And with Delta, fully vaccinated people can spread the virus if they catch it. That's not something scientists saw often with previous strains of the virus.

Wearing a mask in places where the virus is more likely to spread can help protect unvaccinated people from getting sick. And hopefully that can help slow the spread of the Delta variant.

What else does CDC recommend?

CDC says it's still a good idea for schools to return to in-person learning. But it will be important to take measures to reduce the virus's spread. Among them: They recommend that everyone in schools—students, teachers, staff and visitors—wear masks indoors, even if they are fully vaccinated.

How else can I protect my family?

The best way to protect yourself and others is to get a vaccine as soon as you can. Everyone 5 and older in the U.S. is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. To find a vaccine clinic near you, check out vaccines.gov.

Still not sure about the vaccines? Here are a few reasons other people are choosing to get their shots now.

Reviewed 11/23/2021

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