The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given the green light for fully vaccinated Americans to travel. The updated information indicates that fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, passengers should still adhere to guidelines for safe travel and any government or airline mandates.
You are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC if two weeks have passed since you have received the second dose of a two-dose series (such as Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after a single dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson).
Fully vaccinated passengers can travel again
The CDC updated its guidelines for Americans on Friday, giving the green light for passengers to travel again after being fully vaccinated. For domestic travelers, the CDC recommends waiting until after passengers are fully vaccinated before embarking on their trip. This means waiting until at least two weeks after your final dose of the vaccine.
During travel, passengers should still wear a mask over their nose and mouth. This is more than just a guideline; it is federal law. Airlines have also shown that they will remove passengers who do not comply with the mask mandate from their flights and give them a ban from traveling with that airline for as long as the mask mandate is in place. Passengers should also wash their hands or sanitize often and social distance where possible.
The CDC also outlined guidance that fully vaccinated passengers do not need to get tested or self-quarantine before or after travel. The CDC recommends getting tested one to three days before a trip and within three to five days after a trip for unvaccinated passengers.
What about international travel?
The CDC did not give blanket guidance authorizing international travel for all passengers just yet. However, the organization has laid some of the groundwork for vaccinated passengers to travel internationally.
The CDC has outlined a risk assessment for countries around the world. Most countries are still considered at very high risk for infection during travel. You can see the risk assessment for countries here.
International passengers do not need to get tested before departing the US unless the foreign destination they are visiting requires it. The mandate for negative test results within three days of boarding a flight to the US is still in place. The CDC also recommends getting tested three to five days after international travel, but it does not recommend self-quarantining for vaccinated travelers.
Huge news for the airline industry
For the past year, the airline industry has been riding high on the hopes of a vaccine to unlock travel. Now, the CDC is finally providing that road map. The US has been rolling out vaccines at an impressive pace, and now, with over 150 million vaccines administered, over 30% of the country’s population has received at least one dose.
With this in mind, the airline industry saw an excellent March, and a summer surge seems all the more likely. The CDC is focusing on opening barriers for domestic travel, as the US sees the light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic. Shots are also going in arms at a fast pace.
For international travel, the CDC is waiting for other countries to ramp up their vaccination programs before it starts to relieve some burdens or restrictions in place for those travelers. Foreign citizens coming from high-risk countries like the EU, Brazil, UK, and South Africa remain barred from entering the United States.
New York ended its mandate for domestic quarantine requirement on April 1st. Hawaii is expected to open up with fewer restrictions for domestic travelers this summer. With the new CDC guidelines in effect, expect other states and local jurisdictions to remove further domestic restrictions and revitalize the tourist industry outside of hotspot destinations like Florida.
Are you glad the CDC has green-lit domestic travel for vaccinated Americans? Let us know in the comments!