COVID-19 vaccination reduces disease transmission
A Soldier receives a COVID-19 shot at the Kirk Army Health Clinic at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Jan. 12, 2021. Army public health professionals say that many studies show that those who have been vaccinated have a smaller chance of spreading COVID-19 to other individuals. (U.S. Army Public Health Center photo by Graham Snodgrass). (Photo Credit: Graham Snodgrass) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — With President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of American adults partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4, many Americans are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that lift certain restrictions for fully vaccinated personnel are giving many individuals hope of life returning back to pre-pandemic days.

In compliance with CDC guidelines, many Army installations are also lifting restrictions for fully vaccinated personnel. These individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask, except where local policies require mask use; travel domestically without testing or quarantining; and avoid quarantine if exposed to a person with COVID-19.

So what is a fully vaccinated person? Army physicians offer this definition:

“An individual is considered fully vaccinated when they have completed the required number of doses for the vaccine type they are receiving, and a minimum of two-weeks has passed since their final dose of the vaccine was received,” said Dr. Raul Mirza, director of the Clinical Public Health Directorate at the Army Public Health Center.

Although rates of COVID-19 infection are at levels not seen since early in the pandemic, Army public health experts say vigilance is still needed to sustain control of COVID-19 and to prevent future surges.

“Fully vaccinated individuals should continue to isolate if they develop COVID-19 symptoms and stay at home if they’re sick,” said Dr. Steven Cersovsky, deputy director of the Army Public Health Center. “They should also respect local and business policies; respect others’ personal decision to continue to wear a mask or stay distanced; and take steps to protect themselves and others while travelling, such as wearing a mask when using public transportation,” said Cersovsky.

Army experts say that some workplaces may need to maintain certain rules, depending on the circumstance.

“Supervisors may make exceptions to require vaccinated personnel to wear face masks as necessary to ensure a safe work environment,” said Mirza.

Although many studies demonstrate that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 infection, the risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated.

Army experts also say that people who have underlying medical conditions may also need to take additional precautions.

“People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities,” said Mirza. “They may need to keep taking precautions, including masking and social distancing, to prevent COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status.”

Army experts say that personnel who are not fully vaccinated must continue to follow applicable mask guidance, including continuing to wear masks indoors.

“Wearing a mask has been, and continues to be, a cornerstone to reduce COVID-19 transmission," said Mirza.

Additionally, public health professionals say many studies show that those who have been vaccinated have a smaller chance of spreading COVID-19 to other individuals.

“Data suggest that vaccinated people may have up to a four-fold lower viral load than unvaccinated people when infected with SARS-CoV-2,” said Cersovsky. “This means they are less likely to transmit disease, as viral load is a key driver of transmission.”

Cersovsky also stated that occurrence of asymptomatic infection among vaccinated trial participants was approximately two-thirds lower after their first dose than those who received the placebo.

“This is further strong evidence that vaccination greatly reduces transmission,” he said.

For more information on guidance for vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals visit:

The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through population-based monitoring, investigations, and technical consultations.