On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their guidelines on minimizing the impact of COVID-19. Much of the updates involve the lifting of quarantine requirements to those exposed to the virus. For example, social distancing is now recommended to be done as needed based on individual health risk and community transmission level. The new guidelines also deemphasize screening people with no symptoms, and update COVID-19 protocols in schools. One major point that has grabbed the attention of skeptics of the leading authority of public health in the U.S. is how the recommended prevention strategies no longer draw a distinction between people who are vaccinated and those who are not. People who are exposed to the virus no longer must quarantine at home regardless of their vaccination status. Although the new guidelines still emphasize the importance of vaccination and other prevention measures, including antiviral treatments and ventilation, many are using the new guidelines as proof that the vaccines don't work. We find this claim false. The recommended vaccines to prevent severe illness from COVID-19 have been proven to be effective.
Previous guidance suggested that someone who was unvaccinated and was in close contact with someone infected should quarantine for five days, even if they tested negative and had no symptoms. A vaccinated person could skip quarantine. Under the new guidelines, there is no quarantine recommendation. Does this invalidate the efficacy of the vaccines? No. The new guidelines could be construed as a pragmatic approach on the current climate, after taking cautious measures for over two years.
The CDC said it is making changes now because vaccination and prior infections have granted many Americans some degree of protection against the virus, and treatments, vaccines and boosters are available to reduce the risk of severe illness.
The COVID-19 vaccines, such as the authorized vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, are effective at preventing serious illness. As mentioned in previous fact checks, many studies show that they are also effective at preventing infection. More information on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines can be read here.