PA Department of Health: Quarantine rules changed for the vaccinated

Quarantine rules have changed for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Department of Health realigned its COVID-19 quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Now it meshes with that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We know that Pennsylvanians are eager to get vaccinated and be further protected from COVID-19,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “As the CDC continues to update guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated, we will follow their lead. I want to stress, though, that regardless of vaccination status, individuals showing new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still need to isolate and be tested.”

Quarantine rules changed
Healthcare workers at WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital accepted their first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine in December. (Submitted photo)

Under the updated guidance, people who have had both doses of a two-dose vaccine, or one dose of a single dose vaccine, do not need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet all the following criteria:

  • They are fully vaccinated (i.e., more than two weeks following the second dose in a two-dose series; or one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • They are within three months following the last dose in the series; and
  • They have remained asymptomatic since a current COVID-19 exposure. 

This does not mean the vaccine is only effective for three months. It is still unclear how long immunity from vaccine will last. The CDC uses what is known about natural post-infection immunity. Quarantine guidance is limited to 90 days while additional research is conducted.

READ: COVID-19: Demand strong for vaccine

Who is affected

This guidance applies to the general population, including businesses, schools and some healthcare workers. It does not apply to patients or residents in healthcare settings. More information for healthcare settings about vaccinated healthcare workers and patients can be found here.

Close contacts who have not been fully vaccinated, or who do not meet all of the above criteria, must follow existing quarantine guidance. More information on the guidance is included online here.  

The department, along with the CDC, continues to discourage any nonessential travel, even for people who are fully vaccinated. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, and how long the vaccine will protect against COVID-19 is not fully known.

New circulating strains of COVID-19 have popped up in other states and countries; and vaccine effectiveness on these variant strains is not fully known.

The department continues to recommend COVID-19 prevention measures, regardless of vaccination status. Those include masking, physical distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene.