Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated? That’s a question on the minds of many people given the changing guidance coming from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The answer is: Yes — if you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19.
The CDC’s latest guidance says people who are fully vaccinated should get tested three to five days after a potential exposure even if they don’t have symptoms.
That change comes after the federal health agency, in May, eased its initial testing guidance, saying vaccinated people face very little risk of serious illness and don’t need to be tested in most cases even if exposed to someone who was sick. The thinking then was that vaccinated people also weren’t likely to spread it to others.
But that’s changed. The agency says it’s reversing that guidance because of the more contagious delta variant, which now accounts for most coronavirus infections.
The COVID vaccines are still very good at protecting people from getting seriously ill, but the CDC says new data show vaccinated people infected with the delta variant could still spread it to others even if they don’t have any symptoms because that variant often leaves people with a heavier viral load.
The CDC says doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers should consult with their employers, some who might require routine testing for their staff. People working in prisons and homeless shelters also generally are subject to stepped-up testing requirements.
U.S. citizens returning from abroad still have to present a negative COVID test before boarding their flights home regardless of their vaccination status. Anyone who tests positive still should isolate for 10 days, the CDC says.