What exactly constitutes “cautious hugging,” and who needs to exercise caution, is less clear. While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not released guidance on hugging yet, we asked two physicians in the US who’ve followed Covid-19 since the beginning — CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen and Vanderbilt University infectious diseases professor Dr. William Schaffner — about what a safe snuggle looks like.
“If an unvaccinated person wants to hug someone else, I think they should wear a mask,” Schaffner said. “And make it brief.”
What a ‘cautious hug’ looks like
A cautious hug is one that’s outdoors, without face-to-face contact, that doesn’t last very long, the physicians said. Anyone who’s unvaccinated should use caution when hugging someone else, and they should wear a mask while doing it.
Unvaccinated teens probably won’t want to crouch down to hug anyone, so they should keep a mask on while they hug and tilt their face away from the person they’re hugging, he added.
Vaccinated people can hug with less caution, the doctors say
Vaccinated people who’ve missed physical touch are in luck: They can hug each other with abandon, both experts said.
“Fully vaccinated people can hug one another without restriction, including indoors, without masks,” said Wen, who’s also a visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
That goes for all vaccinated people, too. You can hug your vaccinated parents and grandparents for as long as you’d like, but you can also hug an acquaintance or a new romantic partner, as long as you know they’re fully vaccinated — which means it’s been two weeks since their second shot (or only shot, if they got the Johnson & Johnson) — she said.
Fully vaccinated people can also enjoy extended periods of physical contact, Schaffner said: “I think two vaccinated people can sit on a couch together, shoulder to shoulder, enjoying a bowl of popcorn and being fond and affectionate together.”
That was unthinkable even a few months ago.
And that’s just one perk of vaccination, Wen said.
You’ve followed social distancing guidelines for the last year, you’ve worn your mask and stayed away from loved ones outside of your household. Now that you’re fully vaccinated, you can resume hugging and sharing snacks with the people you care about.
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