The CDC recently updated its guidelines on, among other things, quarantine and isolation periods and recommendations regarding booster shots. Below is a high-level summary of some of these changes.

At the end of December 2021, the CDC updated its guidance regarding quarantine and isolation. A media statement from the CDC regarding its updates can be found here. Some of the biggest changes from the December recommendations involved the following:

  • Reducing isolation for those with COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.
  • Revising quarantine periods, including:
    • For unvaccinated individuals, individuals who completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna over five months ago and are not boosted, or individuals who completed J&J over two months ago and are not boosted, quarantine five days followed by “strict mask use” for five days.
    • If quarantine is “not feasible,” wear a “well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.”
    • Individuals who have received booster shots do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.

On January 4, 2022, the CDC made further updates to its guidance pertaining to quarantine and isolation. Of note, while the current guidance does not mandate testing for those who are isolating because they have COVID-19, the CDC indicates that if someone “has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test towards the end of the 5-day isolation period.” If the test result is positive, individuals should continue isolation until day 10. However, if the test is negative, individuals can end isolation but should continue wearing a “well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10.” The CDC also clarified that if an individual had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days, the individual does not need to quarantine and should follow the same guidelines as those who have received all recommended vaccine doses. The CDC’s current guidance on isolation and quarantine is available here. The CDC also provided information about the recommended vaccine doses.

In addition to the above, on January 4, 2022, the CDC updated its guidance on the timing of booster shots for those individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine. Whereas the CDC previously recommended individuals wait six months after receiving the primary series of the Pfizer vaccine, individuals can now receive an mRNA booster shot five months following the completion of their Pfizer primary series. The CDC’s media statement on this change is available here.

Guidance and recommendations regarding COVID-19 are rapidly changing. Because of this, employers should stay up to date on the latest recommendations and regularly review the CDC’s website as well as any state and local guidelines that may impose additional requirements.