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Visitors walk on a busy sidewalk, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Bar Harbor, Maine. (AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty)

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, stressing that increasing political pressure had nothing to do with the abrupt shift in guidelines.

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FILE - In this May 13, 2021, file photo, although no longer required outside, a sign advises visitors to wear masks at the Denver Zoo in Denver. (AP Photo / David Zalubowski, File)

More than a dozen states quickly embraced new federal guidelines that say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most cases. But other states and cities and some major businesses hesitated amid doubts about whether the approach is safe or even workable.

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Runners enjoy Chicago’s lakefront trail. (WTTW News)

Chicago and Illinois officials said Thursday they will follow new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and jettison rules that require fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors. However, masks are not “going away,” according to city health officials.

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In this April 10, 2021, file photo, registered nurse Ashleigh Velasco, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Rosemene Lordeus, right, at a clinic held by Healthcare Network in Immokalee, Fla. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky, File)

In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

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Individuals are issued a COVID-19 vaccination card when they’re vaccinated. (Kristen Thometz / WTTW News)

COVID-19 vaccination cards have become the proverbial golden ticket. But what should you do if you lose it or never get one in the first place? And how do you keep your card safe? Here’s what you need to know. 

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Runners enjoy Chicago’s lakefront trail. (WTTW News)

U.S. health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, and those who are unvaccinated can go without a face covering outside in some cases, too.

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(WTTW News)

More than 20 residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities in Chicago contracted COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. But a new report shows the majority of those who got sick had no symptoms – and did not spread the virus to others.

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In this March 3, 2021, file photo, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is held by pharmacist Madeline Acquilano at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill, File)

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will remain in limbo for a while longer after government health advisers declared Wednesday that they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot — and if so, how big the risk really is.

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In this Thursday, April 8, 2021 file photo, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop-up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer, File)

The U.S. on Tuesday recommended a “pause” in use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots, setting off a chain reaction worldwide and dealing a setback to the global vaccination campaign.

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Cole Smith receives a Moderna variant vaccine shot from clinical research nurse Tigisty Girmay at Emory University's Hope Clinic, on Wednesday afternoon, March 31, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. (AP Photo / Ben Gray)

The vaccines currently being rolled out across the U.S. offer strong protection against variants. But new studies of experimental updates to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines mark a critical first step toward an alternative if the virus eventually outsmarts today’s shots.

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(WTTW News)

New funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow Illinois to “move quickly to further expand our aggressive efforts to reach those most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. 

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(WTTW News)

The CDC says fully vaccinated people can now travel safely, but what does a new COVID-19 surge mean for the summer vacation season? 

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(Photo by Lightscape / Unsplash)

A rural Illinois bar opening event in February was linked to a COVID-19 outbreak of at least 46 cases, a school closure and the hospitalization of a long-term care facility resident, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

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In this Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 file photo, a passenger wears a face mask during an airline flight after taking off from Atlanta. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel)

Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can safely enjoy again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.

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In this March 19, 2021, photo, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leads President Joe Biden into the room for a COVID-19 briefing at the headquarters for the CDC Atlanta. (AP Photo / Patrick Semansky)

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an impassioned plea to Americans on Monday not to let their guard down in the fight against COVID-19, saying she has a recurring feeling “of impending doom.”

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In this March 18, 2021, file photo, students in teacher Christopher Duggan's science class clean their work areas at the end of class at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Students can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks but should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or chorus practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.