Q: A teacher on our elementary campus tested positive for COVID-19. During our contract tracing process, one employee who was in close contact with the teacher notified us that she is fully vaccinated. Does the vaccinated employee still need to quarantine?
A: No. The CDC recently released guidance providing that individuals who have been fully vaccinated within the last three (3) months – and have no symptoms – do not need to quarantine after close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
On February 11, 2021, the CDC updated its quarantine guidance to address the effect of vaccinations on the contact tracing process. The guidance provided that if a person has been fully vaccinated (i.e., has received both required doses of the vaccine) within the last three (3) months, and are currently not showing symptoms of COVID-19, that individual does not need to quarantine after close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
We recommend that you update your contact tracing protocols, including any surveys, questionnaires, or forms you have developed, to seek information about each employee’s vaccination status and current symptoms before determining quarantine status. If an employee identified during a contact tracing inquiry responds that he/she has been vaccinated, you should ask for proof (e.g., their vaccination card), and could seek confirmation from the local health department as to the accuracy of the information, if needed. We also recommend having the vaccinated employee provide written confirmation that they are not currently experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and include a list of the most up-to-date symptoms from the CDC for review prior to the employee’s confirmation. A current list of those symptoms can be found here. Be sure to keep a record of the employee’s documentation, including a copy of the vaccination card and signed verification that the employee is not currently experiencing symptoms.
As you update your protocols and corresponding forms, we recommend dialogue with your school district’s attorney to ensure that all quarantine exemptions are addressed, as many of the guidelines have now changed since school protocols were initially drafted.