People who’ve been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 can travel within the U.S. without getting tested or quarantining after their trips because they are less likely to get and spread the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
They can also travel to other countries without getting tested first, unless it is required by their destination, and don’t need to self-quarantine when they return to the U.S. unless their locality demands it.
However, fully vaccinated Americans should still present a negative test before boarding an international flight back to the U.S. and get tested three to five days after returning home.
The CDC also recommends that vaccinated travelers wear masks and practice physical distancing. Approved vaccines are highly effective at staving off the coronavirus but aren’t perfect, and scientists are studying the extent to which a vaccinated person can spread the virus, as case counts remain high.
“The science on COVID-19 is constantly evolving. We will continue to monitor the evidence and provide updates as we learn more,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 briefing.
She said the agency isn’t advocating travel but felt it had to weigh in on its safety for fully vaccinated persons, based on the latest science. Air travel is picking up, anyway, with Transportation Security Administration screenings starting to approach levels not seen since March 2020.
Air travel is picking up, anyway, with Transportation Security Administration screenings starting to reach levels not seen since the start of the pandemic.
The TSA screened roughly 1.5 million travelers on Thursday compared to 124,000 on April 1 of last year — still far short, however, of the 2.4 million checked on that date in 2019.
Easter is on Sunday, so more people might travel to see family, and countries like Iceland are letting fully vaccinated persons from outside the European Union enter their country without dealing with border measures.
The CDC is also under pressure to let vaccinated people know what they can do — instead of reiterating pandemic restrictions — as the U.S. administers an average of 3 million shots per day and officials tout their efficacy.
Critics questioned the lack of travel guidance when the CDC released advice on household gatherings weeks ago, saying a green light to venture out would prod more people to roll up their sleeves.
Roughly 100 million Americans have received at least one dose of an approved vaccine in the U.S., or about 30% of the population, but the country has a long way to go in getting to its target of getting 70%-85% of the population fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson version.
The CDC discourages travel among unvaccinated persons. It says these travelers should be tested one-to-three days before domestic travel and again three to five days after travel.
They should self-quarantine for seven days after travel, or 10 days if they don’t seek testing after their trips.
Dr. Walensky said Friday that she remains worried about the trajectory of the pandemic, as the rolling average of daily cases edges up after weeks of steady decline earlier this year.
“We are at 64,000 new COVID cases today, and our numbers continue to increase,” the director said.
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