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CDC: COVID Testing Isn't Necessary For Fully Vaccinated People

Woman getting tested for COVID from her car.

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Key Takeaways

  • Most people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don't need to be tested after being exposed to the virus.
  • There are exceptions to this testing recommendation.
  • Fully vaccinated people should still monitor their symptoms after being exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for people who are fully vaccinated, saying that most don’t need to be tested for COVID-19, even after having a known exposure to the virus.

The CDC guidance specifically says that fully vaccinated people can “refrain” from testing unless they’re residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility, or a homeless shelter. As a whole, though, the CDC says that the risk of infection for someone who is fully vaccinated is “low."

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot in a two-shot series, or two weeks after being vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC still recommends that fully vaccinated people who have had a known exposure to COVID-19 monitor their symptoms for 14 days. And, if a fully vaccinated person experiences symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC advises that then get tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The change comes along with new CDC guidance that says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by law, rules, or regulations.

These changes in guidance come alongside a push from the Biden administration to get at least 70% of adults in the U.S. one dose of the vaccine by July 4. According to the latest government data, at least 62% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 50% have received both doses.

What This Means For You

If you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to get tested if you’re exposed to someone with COVID-19. However, you should monitor your symptoms over the next 14 days and get tested if you develop signs of COVID-19.

COVID Testing Isn't All That Necessary Anymore

The new guidance is promising, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Verywell. “This set of recommendations means that the CDC has terrific confidence in the COVID vaccine and that they anticipate that vaccinated people only very occasionally will be the source of infection for anyone else," he says.

Testing people who are fully vaccinated runs the risk of false-positive results, John Sellick, DO, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo/SUNY, tells Verywell. “When you have a very low presence of infection and many people are vaccinated, testing is largely unnecessary in the vaccinated population,” he says.

In general, Sellick says, “I would not ask fully-vaccinated people to pursue testing, unless they have extenuating circumstances, like someone at home who is immunosuppressed.”

Overall, Sellick says that not testing people who are fully vaccinated is unlikely to change much about the course of the pandemic. “We’re now trying to chip away at vaccine-hesitant people,” he says. “Hopefully, when they see how safe and effective these vaccines are, it will encourage them to get vaccinated.”

The latest guidance is a sign that “we’re on the road to recovery," Sellick adds. "We’re not completely there yet, but we’re beating this pandemic down, no doubt about it.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. Updated May 13, 2021.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated. Updated May 16, 2021.