The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Jan. 7 released new COVID-19 guidance for winter sports to update its definition of “fully vaccinated” to recognize natural immunity from previous coronavirus infection as well as vaccinations and boosters.

“For purposes of the winter guidelines, the NCAA’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group has developed a definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ that considers both vaccination status and other immunity factors that may impact risks for Tier 1 individuals, including student-athletes and coaches,” the guidance reads.

Fully vaccinated individuals include those within two months of receiving the primary series of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, five months of receiving the Pfizer vaccine series, or within six months of receiving the Moderna vaccine series, according to the updated guidance.

Individuals who have received a booster vaccine if they’re beyond those time frames also are considered fully vaccinated.

Notably, a person within 90 days of a documented COVID-19 infection is also considered to be the equivalent of fully vaccinated, the guidance states.

“The Omicron variant has presented another surge of cases across the country,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said. “This guidance was designed to align with the latest public health directives. Given how the pandemic continues to evolve, it’s important that staff on member campuses continue to work with their local and state health officials on protocols most suitable for their locations.”

The NCAA also suggests five days of quarantine after a positive test if there are no symptoms or “symptoms are resolving.” The medical advisory group also recommends wearing a mask around others for five additional days; however, “participation in athletic activities without a mask during days six through 10 can be considered” if a negative PCR, nucleic acid amplification test, or antigen test is conducted.

Meanwhile, individuals who aren’t fully vaccinated and come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for five days and not participate in winter athletic activities, according to the guidance.

The NCAA suggests that such individuals continue to wear masks for an additional five days. Again, they can take part in athletic activities without a mask during days six through 10 following a negative test result.

Fully vaccinated close contacts don’t need to quarantine but should wear a mask around others for 10 days and can take part in athletic activities without having to wear a mask.

“Individuals should test on day five, if possible, and test if symptomatic,” the NCAA notes.

The NCAA guidance takes into consideration available recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which in late December announced new self-isolation guidance for individuals who test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

As of last month, those who test positive for the virus should isolate for five days after infection instead of 10, regardless of vaccination status. The agency similarly shortened the time that close contacts of COVID-19-positive people need to quarantine.

CDC officials said the updated December guidance follows scientific evidence suggesting that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early on, within one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms and three days after symptoms emerge.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

January 13, 2022 11:24 am

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