Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Feb 03, 2022

CDC now uses “up to date” instead of “fully vaccinated”

COVID-19Harassment & DiscriminationSafety and Health 

In updated guidance regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccination status, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now uses the term “up to date” instead of “fully vaccinated.” Up to date means individuals have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. Workers are eligible for a booster if at least 5 months have passed since completing their primary Pfizer or Moderna vaccination series, or 2 months after completing their Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccination. Fully vaccinated means individuals have received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.

The CDC’s guidance on quarantine and isolation says up-to-date individuals don’t have to quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19, but should wear a mask for 10 days, assuming they have no symptoms. For individuals who are unvaccinated or are more than the specified number of months outside of their final vaccine dose (and not yet boosted), the CDC recommends quarantine for 5 days after exposure to the virus due to close contact, followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days, assuming no symptoms develop. Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC still recommends that workers who are under quarantine (i.e., waiting to see whether they develop symptoms after an exposure) should be tested 5 days after exposure. In contrast to the quarantine protocols, the CDC doesn’t require testing to discontinue isolation after contracting COVID-19. See the CDC guidance for specifics.

Tips: The states of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington have issued guidance that aligns with the CDC. However, Montana employers should keep in mind that state law prohibits discriminating against individuals on the basis of vaccination status, so it may be risky to excuse up-to-date individuals from quarantine. See our original article on Montana’s statute and follow-up article on FAQs issued by the Montana Department of Labor. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued guidance that mostly aligns with the CDC’s changes for booster-eligible individuals, but continues California’s stricter approach to discontinuing isolation (allowing isolation to end after 5 days only if the employee has a negative test and no symptoms or improving symptoms). Outside of Montana, if you intend to excuse “up-to-date” employees from quarantine after exposure, you’ll likely need to ask for updated proof of vaccination status, since being “fully vaccinated” is no longer sufficient. We will continue to monitor developments that affect the workplace and update our members.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.