Biggest Nurses Union Rebukes CDC Unmasking of Vaccinated

Biggest Nurses Union Rebukes CDC Unmasking of Vaccinated shoes are in the foreground as people protest behind. Nurses affiliated with the group National Nurses United read the names of registered nurses who died during the coronavirus pandemic while demonstrating in Black Lives Matter Plaza May 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Saturday, 15 May 2021 06:48 PM

The largest nurse’s union in the country said Friday that it does not support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to allow those completely vaccinated from COVID-19 to remove their masks and social distance in public.

“This newest CDC guidance is not based on science, does not protect public health, and threatens the lives of patients, nurses, and other frontline workers across the country,” National Nurses United (NNU) Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, said in a statement from the union on Friday. “Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the CDC has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century.”

On Tuesday, the CDC announced new guidance that those people fully vaccinated no longer had to wear masks or social distance.

According to the agency, those people that were vaccinated with either of the second shot of the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine only need to wait two weeks until they can stop wearing masks, social distance, or avoid crowds and indoor settings.

“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the agency’s website said.

The union, which represents more than 170,000 members throughout the country and is the largest association for the profession in history, said the decision to allow fully vaccinated people to take off their masks and not “isolate” is a big threat to their patients.

“CDC issued this new guidance even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard mandated by President Biden’s Jan. 21 executive order has been delayed for two months,” Castillo said in the statement. “This lack of protection compounds the dangers that nurses, and other essential workers continue to face on the job.”

According to the union, there are still a high number of COVID-19 cases with more than 35,000 newly detected cases reported each day and deadlier strains, or variants, may become resistant to the vaccines.

Citing other issues with the decision, the union said there are still questions regarding the three vaccines being distributed nationwide that do not address asymptomatic and mild infections and that the CDC would no longer be tracking infections unless they resulted in hospitalization or death.

“If the CDC had fully recognized the science on how this deadly virus is transmitted, this new guidance would never have been issued,” NNU President Jean Ross, RN said.