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Can people vaccinated against COVID-19 still spread the coronavirus?

Vaccinated people are well protected from getting sick, but could they inadvertently transmit the coronavirus? Noam Galai/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Can people vaccinated against COVID-19 still spread the coronavirus?

Vaccinated people are well protected from getting sick, but could they inadvertently transmit the coronavirus? Noam Galai/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Can people vaccinated against COVID-19 still spread the coronavirus?

Vaccinated people are well protected from getting sick, but could they inadvertently transmit the coronavirus? Noam Galai/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Can people vaccinated against COVID-19 still spread the coronavirus?

Vaccinated people are well protected from getting sick, but could they inadvertently transmit the coronavirus? Noam Galai/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

As restrictions are lifted and people start to leave their masks at home, some people worry: Can you catch COVID-19 from someone who’s vaccinated?

Sanjay Mishra, Vanderbilt University

Takeaways:

  • Vaccines can be great at preventing you from getting sick, while at the same time not necessarily stopping you from getting infected or spreading the germ.
  • Preliminary evidence seems to suggest the COVID-19 vaccines make it less likely someone who’s vaccinated will transmit the coronavirus, but the proof is not yet ironclad.
  • Unvaccinated people should still be diligent about mask-wearing, physical distancing and other precautions against the coronavirus.

When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidelines about mask-wearing on May 13, 2021, plenty of Americans were left a little confused. Now anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.

Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said the new guideline is “based on the evolution of the science” and “serves as an incentive” for the almost two-thirds of Americans who are not yet fully vaccinated to go ahead and get the shot.

But some people cannot be vaccinated because of underlying conditions. Others with weakened immune systems, from cancer or medical treatments, may not be fully protected by their vaccinations. Children aged 12 to 15 became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine only on May 10, 2021. And no COVID-19 vaccines are yet authorized for the nearly 50 million children in the U.S. younger than 12.

As restrictions are lifted and people start to leave their masks at home, some people worry: Can you catch COVID-19 from someone who’s vaccinated?

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