Vaccinated people can travel safely, according to new CDC guidelines released on Friday, but they must continue to take COVID-19 safety precautions while doing so, such as wearing a mask in public and socially distancing themselves.
The release of the long-awaited guidelines comes as U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations have increased nationwide and as the summer travel season approaches. About 56 million people in the United States, or 16.9% of the total population, are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and 100 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We now have several recently published studies documenting the real-world efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, so today we are releasing an update to our guide for fully vaccinated people,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing on the COVID-19 in the White House on Friday. “Fully vaccinated people can resume low-risk travel for themselves.”
He added: “For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can fly to visit their healthy grandchildren without undergoing a COVID-19 test or self-quarantine, as long as they follow the other recommended preventive measures while traveling.”
But, he said, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide, “I would advise against general travel in general.”
The health agency has so far issued little guidance on what activities vaccinated people can safely resume. Last month, it issued safety recommendations that allow vaccinated people to meet at home without masks or with another unvaccinated family if they are at low risk for serious illness.
Here’s what the new CDC travel guidelines say:
- Fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel. They do not need to be tested before or after the flight and do not need to self-quarantine after the trip.
- Fully vaccinated people should continue to take COVID-19 precautions – such as wearing a mask in public, walking away socially, and washing their hands – while traveling.
- Fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without obtaining a COVID-19 test in advance unless required by the country they are traveling to.
- Fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States, unless required by state or local jurisdiction.
- Fully vaccinated people traveling to the United States from a foreign country should have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flights. They should also be tested for COVID-19 three to five days after returning.
Over the past week, data from health professionals released by the CDC has shown that widely used two-dose vaccines appear to prevent 90% of COVID-19 infections, a very effective rate, which has boosted the confidence of public health experts. in shots. In particular, the discovery that strokes prevent asymptomatic cases, which are believed to play an important role in the spread of the virus, has bolstered confidence in easing restrictions for vaccinated people.
People are considered fully vaccine-protected two weeks after their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, or two weeks after their single Johnson & Johnson vaccine injection.
Masks are still needed on planes, buses, and trains under CDC guidelines, as well as at airports and other travel hubs.
U.S. states are reporting a worrying increase in cases, which Walensky warned threatens a fourth increase. On Monday, the CDC director attributed the increase in cases to the large number of unvaccinated people in the United States, which has rushed to reopen, the spread of more transmissible variants and the increase in travel. Other experts said they were optimistic that as vaccinations continue to spread, especially among older people and other vulnerable populations, an increase in cases will not lead to as many hospitalizations or deaths.
“We are in a deadly race against the virus. And the war against this virus is far from being won, “said Jeff Zients, the White House’s chief pandemic officer on Friday.” Even though we are vaccinating record numbers of people, we have many more people to vaccinate and are seeing. to an increase in cases “.
He added: “We are working to get this pandemic behind us as quickly as possible, but we are not there yet. So we need everyone to do their part. “