Can vaccinated people travel? This question has been top of mind for many Americans as millions receive the COVID-19 vaccine each day. After more than a year of social restrictions, canceled trips and postponed events, we are eager to start exploring again.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released travel guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people can now travel without getting tested or quarantining. While the vaccines offer a high level of immunity, there are still some restrictions to traveling domestically and internationally.
According to the CDC’s recent travel guidelines, fully vaccinated people are free to travel within the U.S. with no need for COVID-19 testing or post-travel quarantine as long as they take COVID-19 precautions while traveling. This includes wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds, social distancing, and washing hands frequently.
Because of differing vaccination rates around the world and the potential spread of new COVID-19 variants, the CDC provided the following guidance for those considering international travel:
- Fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without getting a COVID-19 test beforehand unless it is required by the international destination
- Fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States, unless required by a state or local jurisdiction
- Fully vaccinated people must still have a negative COVID-19 test result before they board a flight to the United States and get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after returning from international travel
- Fully vaccinated people should continue to take COVID-19 precautions while traveling internationally
Possibility for Infection
Despite the high immunity levels offered by the vaccines, fully vaccinated people can still infect others and also experience symptoms of COVID-19 if they become infected.
Travelers run the risk of being a transmitter of the virus to others and also still run the risk of mild to moderate disease themselves. While the FDA-approved vaccines are effective in preventing death and severe illness from COVID-19, it is still possible to contract the virus and possibly infect others who have not been fully vaccinated. None of the vaccines offer 100% immunity from the virus.
Another factor that makes international travel trickier to navigate is the COVID-19 variants. So far, the vaccines approved in the U.S. seem to offer protection against the variants, but the risk of further mutations given more spread could mean new variants arise that could escape the vaccine protection.
The CDC suggestion is: If you do decide to travel, you should thoroughly research local COVID-19 guidance for the planned destination and understand all guidelines that will impact your journey. Anyone traveling, regardless of destination or mode of transit, should also continue to exercise all COVID-19 public health measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.