COVID vaccine

If Exposed to COVID While Vaccinated, Do You Need to Quarantine? Chicago's Top Doc Answers

If exposed to COVID-19 while fully vaccinated, do you still need to quarantine? Chicago's top doctor says no.

During a Facebook Live event Thursday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said those who have been fully vaccinated from the coronavirus do not need to quarantine if exposed to COVID.

"The CDC recommends that you do not if you are fully vaccinated," Arwady said. "You are considered protected against COVID and you would not need to quarantine after an exposure."

She reminded that though the vaccine are "very protective," they do not entirely prevent the spread of COVID-19, as the city has seen some cases in people fully vaccinated.

"Not a lot, it's unusual, but it happens," Arwady said. "And so we do ask people after an exposure certainly to be extra careful with monitoring their symptoms, extra careful with wearing your mask."

Even if fully vaccinated against COVID, meaning an individual has waited two weeks after the second dose, health officials continue to recommend wearing a mask in public.

Chicago remains likely several months away from removing a mask mandate, according to Arwady, but could have a discussion in the future if vaccination rates continue to increase.

In the same Facebook Live event, Arwady referenced a journal and went into detail describing the differences in vaccine protection between COVID and the flu.

According to Arwady, the influenza virus typically mutates more rapidly than COVID, which she said is a good thing in terms of protecting against the virus.

“It mutates much less quickly than the flu which is really good news,” Arwady said. “It's part of why in the real world protection has continued to be quite good.”

However, she said she’s unsure whether or not a booster will be needed in the future. As of currently, Arwady said there is no plan for a booster shot amid emerging variants of the virus.

“You could need a booster because it does mutate, but at this point, it's not mutating anywhere near as quickly as flu, even though it's had so much opportunity to do so because it's spread across the whole world,” Arwady said.

If a booster is needed, Arwady said it would likely only be because the protections the COVID vaccine offers are fading against the different or new variants of the virus.

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