Healthy Body

The CDC Says You Don’t Need To Wear a Mask Outdoors (If You’re Fully Vaccinated)

Allie Flinn

Photo: Getty Images / Tim Robberts
Good news for those of us longing for some semblance of life before the phrase “unprecedented times” became extremely triggering: The CDC released updated COVID-19 mask guidelines. The updated safety recommendations mean that non-masked walking, running, biking, dining outside, and small outdoor gatherings are back on the menu for more than 96 million adults in the U.S. who are fully vaccinated.

About 43 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one dose of a vaccine, but “fully vaccinated” means it’s been two weeks since your first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or your second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines. If you’re not vaccinated yet, the updated CDC guidance says it’s safe not to wear a mask if you’re walking, running, or biking outdoors by yourself or with a member of your household, and to take off your mask if you are at a small outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated people. It is still recommended that everyone wears a mask when attending crowded outdoor events and for indoor activities in public spaces or with members outside your household.

This chart from the CDC illustrates the updated COVID-19 mask guidelines:

do i need to wear a mask if i'm vaccinated
Graphic: Courtesy of the CDC

Everyone 16 and older is now eligible for the vaccines in the U.S., and the CDC is urging people to get their shots as soon as possible in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Shortly after the CDC announcement, President Joe Biden addressed reporters outside the White House, urging unvaccinated people to make an appointment or find a walk-in site if they haven’t already. “The bottom line is clear: If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors,” he said. “So for those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet, especially if you’re younger, or thinking you don’t need it—this is another great reason to go get vaccinated.”

If you’re still undecided about getting the vaccine because you’re concerned about the side effects, here are answers to 13 FAQs about the second dose. And if you’re undecided because you’ve heard that it contains a tracking device, that’s one of these five vaccine myths infectious disease experts want you to stop believing right now. Here’s how to find a vaccine appointment near you. And for your post-vaccine selfie, there’s now a syringe emoji without the blood.

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