CDC recommends changes to isolation and quarantine for COVID-19

Updates, 1/17/22: The CDC shortened the recommended length of time between a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and a booster dose to 5 months (previously it was 6 months). The definition of “not up-to-date” on vaccinations has been updated to reflect this change.

Changes to isolation recommendations for people who test positive for COVID-19:

On Monday 12/27, CDC made some changes to recommendations for isolation for people with COVID-19.

For all people who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, CDC shortened the recommended time for isolation from 10 days to five days.

  • If you have no symptoms, or your symptoms are improving after five days, you can leave your house. If you have a fever, stay home until your fever goes away.
  • You should continue to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask around others for five additional days.
  • High-quality and well-fitting masks are essential and are described here.

According to the CDC, they are making this change because data demonstrate that the majority of COVID transmission occurs early in the course of illness. CDC states that most transmission occurs in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after onset of symptoms.

Changes to CDC’s quarantine recommendations for people exposed to COVID-19:

New guidance for people who are NOT up-to-date with their vaccinations and booster

Not “up-to-date” includes people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated; people who completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna more than 5 months ago but have not been boosted; or people who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago and have not been boosted.

If you are not up-to-date with vaccinations and boosters, after exposure to someone with COVID-19:

  • Stay home for five days;
  • Test on Day 5. It’s very important to test on Day 5 if possible.
  • If you test negative at day five you can leave your home but must continue to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask around others for five additional days; and
  • If you can’t quarantine you must wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days.

New guidance for people who ARE up-to-date with vaccinations and boosters

Up-to-date includes people who have received their booster shot or received the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine fewer than 5 months ago or a single Johnson & Johnson vaccine fewer than 2 months ago.

In addition, children less than 16 years old (for whom booster is not recommended) are considered by the CDC to be up-to-date. They should follow the guidelines, below, for someone 16 and older who has completed their primary series and a booster.

If you are up-to date with vaccinations and boosters, after exposure to someone with COVID-19:

  • You do not need to quarantine following an exposure;
  • Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days after the exposure; and
  • Test on day 5, if possible.

Everyone who has been exposed regardless of vaccination status should get a COVID test five days after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a test confirms symptoms are not caused due to COVID-19.

With cases at an all-time high in King County, it is critical that each of us do what we can to minimize exposure and spread. Layer your protection strategies by:

These recommendations do not apply to healthcare workers. Strategies for healthcare workers are provided by the CDC.

Originally published on December 29, 2021.