Isolation and Quarantine

Isolation vs. Quarantine: What’s the Difference?

Definintions Are Important

Although the words “quarantine” and “isolation” are often used interchangably, they actually mean different things in the context of public health.

  • Quarantine is a precautionary measure for individuals who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, but are unsure whether they have the virus themselves.
  • Isolation, on the other hand, is for individuals who definitely or likely have COVID: either they tested positive on a PCR or rapid test, or they have COVID-like symptoms.

One main difference is that isolation requirements are the same for everyone, regardless of vaccination status — whereas quarantine requirements differ depending on your vaccine status.

Booster Eligibility Requirements

*As of January 2022, the CDC defines eligibility for a booster shot as:

  • Five or more months following the second Moderna or Pfizer dose
  • Two or more months following the Johnson & Johnson dose

**In this context, “initial vaccinations” means that the individual has completed the primary two doses of Pfizer/Moderna or the single J&J dose.

This page was last updated on August 4, 2022.