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Can you gather without masks after getting COVID-19 vaccine? Dr. Sunenshine reacts to Fauci, CDC

Virus Outbreak Texas
Posted at 4:49 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 08:34:36-05

Dr. Anthony Fauci caught some people by surprise when he said in a recent interview that people who were fully vaccinated could begin to hang out together. The CDC also released new guidelines for gatherings involving vaccinated people on Monday.

"What we're saying right now, even though it isn't backed by data, it's backed by common sense, that if you have two vaccinated people, and they want to get together, be that family members or friends that you know are vaccinated...even though the risk is not zero, the risk becomes extremely low when you have both parties vaccinated. So we're going to start seeing people saying, 'hey, the more people get vaccinated, I can have dinner with my family member that comes in,'" Fauci said.

So what does that mean for Arizona, specifically the Valley? We asked Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Medical Director for Disease Control at the Maricopa County Health Department.

"I think it's different when you're coming from a national perspective versus a local perspective. I think there are a lot of things to take into account," Dr. Sunenshine said. "When you look at where we are in Maricopa County, we are at 180 cases per 100,000 which is strongly in the red zone, and about 10% positivity. We have enough community transition right now that I would not let down my guard."

She continued, "I wouldn't just...interact with more people without wearing masks, even though I am fully vaccinated and even if they were fully vaccinated. I think a lot of it depends on what we are seeing locally. Right now, it's important for us to continue to wear masks, and wash our hands and do all those other preventative strategies. until we get to a place with a lot less transmission."

Another thing to consider is doctors are still researching whether a vaccinated person could spread COVID-19 to someone who isn't vaccinated, even if that vaccinated person does not get sick themselves.

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.

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