Even if you’ve been vaccinated, boosted, and have taken necessary precautions, you may still get ill with COVID-19. With the highly contagious omicron variant sweeping the nation, experts predict we will see more breakthrough cases of the virus. Once you test positive for COVID-19, the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are to isolate for a full 10 days, no matter whether you are vaccinated or not.
According to MedPage Today, people who are vaccinated and boosted and contract omicron appear to have milder symptoms. This could mean a change in the official recommendations for isolation down the road. The United Kingdom reduced its COVID-19 isolation period from 10 days to 7 days for people who receive a negative rapid flow test two days in a row.
Currently the CDC is evaluating whether to shorten its 10-day isolation guideline for fully vaccinated or boosted individuals. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University of School of Public Health, told Newsmax Monday that the guidelines should be adjusted.
“I think 10 days for fully vaccinated people who have a breakthrough infection is just too long,” he said. “It’s unnecessary. What I think we should be doing is five days, followed by a rapid test. What you’ll find is most people are negative on the rapid tests after five days, and that means they’re not contagious, and they should be able to get back to their families and just get back to their lives.”
Not all experts agree. Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, says that a blanket approach to reducing isolation time is not in the public’s interest.
“From a national perspective, now is not the time to be reducing isolation time or quarantine regulations for everyone,” he told MedPage Today. “But now may be the time to do that for select groups.”
Swartzberg suggests that healthcare workers who are fully vaccinated and boosted should be in one of those select groups so that they can care for hospitalized patients. He said he could not see the same argument for healthcare workers who are not vaccinated.
“We are in the midst of an explosion now,” he said, explaining why he doesn’t think cutting isolation time is wise. “I think it might be taking a little bit too much of a risk.” Swartzberg added that perhaps people with no symptoms could come out of isolation sooner.
Dr. Aaron Carroll, chief health officer at Indiana University in Bloomington, agrees that essential workers should have different guidelines for isolation.
“We really need alternative guidance for mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic vaccinated and boosted people testing positive for COVID-19,” he said, according to MedPage Today. “Mandatory 10-day isolation is going to make things really difficult for essential service.”
However, until the CDC announces any changes, the recommendation remains to isolate for 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
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