- New CDC guidelines say it’s OK to travel domestically if you’re fully vaccinated.
- Fully vaccinated domestic travelers don’t need to be tested before or after traveling unless their destination requires it.
- International travel does require testing in some cases.
On April 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source announced that people who are fully vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.
According to the CDC, you’re considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you receive the last required dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This means you’re fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna-NIAID vaccines, and 2 weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The travel guidance comes from the reasoning that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to contract and transmit the coronavirus.
“All three vaccines currently in use in the U.S. are highly protective against COVID-19. For those who are fully vaccinated, 2 weeks after the last required dose, the risk of out-of-home activities like traveling is substantially lower,” Dr. Robert Amler, dean of New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice and a former CDC chief medical officer, told Healthline.
If you travel domestically, keep the following updated information from the CDC in mind:
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it.
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine.
- Fully vaccinated travelers should still follow the CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely, including:
- wearing a mask over your nose and mouth
- staying 6 feet away from others and avoiding crowds
- washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer
- self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms after traveling, and isolate and get tested if symptoms develop
Amler stressed the importance of staying cautious and avoiding potential exposures to the coronavirus whenever possible during travel.
“This is because many Americans are still unvaccinated. They can still get COVID-19 without noticeable symptoms and continue to spread the virus to other unvaccinated people,” Amler said.
“In addition, a very small fraction of fully vaccinated people may still be at risk because no vaccine works 100 percent of the time. Also, emerging variants of the virus add a measure of uncertainty,” he said.
Before traveling, the CDC guidelinesTrusted Source recommend following all state and local recommendations or requirements.
Dr. Kathleen Jordan, an infectious disease specialist and senior vice president of medical affairs at Tia, said this is especially important because communities across the United States are in different stages with changing vaccination rates, as well as widely varied rates of COVID-19 transmission.
“As a result, there are very different testing and quarantining regulations coming from each local community. I would expect rapidly changing requirements in the coming weeks and months, so check in frequently with your destination’s public health guidance,” Jordan told Healthline.
The CDC also suggests waiting to travel outside the United States until you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine.
Because international travel comes with more risks than domestic travel, once fully vaccinated, the CDC recommendsTrusted Source the following:
- You do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it. Check your destination’s requirements hereTrusted Source.
- You are requiredTrusted Source to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before boarding a flight to the United States.
- Get tested for COVID-19 3 to 5 days after travel.
- You do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
- During travel, practice safety precautions, such as wearing masks, physical distancing, and handwashing.
Although people who are vaccinated should expect fewer requirements for domestic travel, Jordan believes testing requirements will persist for international travel.
Additionally, if you’re fully vaccinated and decide to travel domestically or internationally, she stressed the importance of thinking about other people in your family and community.
“Remember, not all of us are eligible to get vaccinated — we still have no vaccine for those under the age of 16. Families still need to consider both the risks to their children as well as for their children to be transmitters of the virus,” Jordan said.
“Unvaccinated children, or any adult who isn’t fully vaccinated, are still subject to testing and quarantining requirements,” she said.