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Department of Health Aligns Quarantine Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals with CDC COVID-19 Recommendations

02/26/2021

Harrisburg, PA - The Department of Health today announced that it has aligned its COVID-19 quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated individuals with that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We know that Pennsylvanians are eager to get vaccinated and be further protected from COVID-19,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “As the CDC continues to update guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated, we will follow their lead. I want to stress, though, that regardless of vaccination status, individuals who are showing new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still need to isolate and be tested for COVID-19.”

Under the updated guidance, people who have had both doses of a two-dose vaccine, or one dose of a single dose vaccine, do not need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet all the following criteria:

  • They are fully vaccinated (i.e., more than two weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series, or of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • They are within three months following receipt of the last dose in the series; and
  • They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure. 

This does not mean the vaccine is only effective for three months, but rather that it is unclear how long immunity from vaccine will last. The CDC is utilizing what is known about natural post-infection immunity and limiting the quarantine guidance to 90 days at this time while additional research is conducted.

This guidance applies to the general population, including businesses, schools and some healthcare settings as a way to alleviate staffing shortages. It does not apply to patients or residents in healthcare settings. More information for healthcare settings about vaccinated healthcare workers and patients can be found here.

Close contacts who have not been fully vaccinated, or who do not meet all of the above criteria, must follow existing quarantine guidance. More information on the guidance is included online in the PA Health Alert Network (PA-HAN) quarantine recommendations after COVID-19 vaccination update.

The department, along with the CDC, continue to discourage any nonessential travel, even for people who are fully vaccinated, because no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and how long the vaccine will protect against COVID-19 is not fully known. In addition, there are new circulating strains of COVID-19 in other states and countries that are being investigated, and vaccine effectiveness on these variant strains is not fully known.

The department continues to mandate COVID-19 prevention measures, regardless of vaccination status, such as masking, physical distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene.

While vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient. To keep Pennsylvanians informed about vaccination efforts:

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

MEDIA CONTACT: Barry Ciccocioppo - RA-DHpressoffice@pa.gov

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