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Vaccinated Americans should get tested after COVID-19 exposure, CDC recommends in new guidance

Breakthrough cases, when a vaccinated person tests positive for the coronavirus, are still very rare

A woman is tested for COVID-19 in Miami.
Chantel Powell gets a COVID-19 PCR test in order to travel later this week at a Miami-Dade County testing site, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Miami.
Marta Lavandier, Associated Press

Vaccinated people should get tested for COVID-19 if they’ve been around anyone who has the coronavirus, regardless if the vaccinated individual has symptoms or not, according to new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our updated guidance recommends vaccinated people get tested upon exposure regardless of symptoms,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky told The New York Times in an email.

What are the CDC’s new testing guidelines for vaccinated people?

The CDC published new guidances for vaccinated Americans earlier this week, which included recommending that people in “substantial or high transmission” areas wear a mask while indoors.

After being in contact to someone with the coronavirus, the CDC recommends that vaccinated Americans get tested three to five days after that exposure, whether they have symptoms or not.

  • While waiting for test results, the health agency suggests wearing a mask while indoors until the test comes back negative or the two weeks go by.
  • If the test is positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends that person isolate and avoid contact with others for 10 days.

Breakthrough cases are rare and vaccines help

Breakthrough cases, when a vaccinated person tests positive for the coronavirus, are incredibly rare, the Deseret News reported this week. But health experts believe the frequency of those rare cases could go up, especially as the virus mutates.

  • “I think we are going to see the breakthrough rate increase, and that’s just because virus mutate. It’s part of what they are,” said Utah’s Logan Regional Hospital medical director Dr. Taki May, according to the Deseret News.

But it’s still important to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

  • “When you drive your car, you don’t think, ‘Oh, I could get in an accident today.’ We hear about accidents because they’re unusual. I think people need to change their mindset,” the medical director said. “We hear about the scary stuff because it’s scary. We don’t hear about the mundane stuff, which is most people, successfully vaccinated, avoiding COVID.”