The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its travel guidance for fully vaccinated people to reflect the latest evidence and science.
Given recent studies evaluating the real-world effects of vaccination, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last recommended dose of vaccine.
The CDC says fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. and do not need COVID-19 testing or post-travel self-quarantine as long as they continue to take COVID-19 precautions while traveling—wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, socially distancing and washing hands frequently.
Because of the potential introduction and spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, differences in disease burden and vaccines, and vaccine coverage around the world, CDC is providing the following guidance related to international travel:
- Fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without getting a COVID-19 test before travel unless it is required by the international destination.
- Fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the U.S., 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 U.S. 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.
The announcement has been well received by many in the travel industry, including NTA, which still advises travelers to continue to take protective measures while traveling, including wearing masks.
"This announcement comes as welcome news to everyone in the industry," said Catherine Prather, President, NTA. "Many of our operators anticipated this next step and were scheduling tours that allowed vaccinated—or negative-tested—clients to climb aboard."
Prather is also encouraged by the CDC saying that vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested prior to leaving the U.S. to visit other countries, although some destinations may require a negative test. She says while the association is eager to see more borders open up to travelers worldwide, this new CDC guidance is a positive step in a promising direction.
Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO, also says the CDC's new travel guidance is a major step in the right direction.
"The CDC's data suggests that vaccinated individuals don't transmit the coronavirus, which opens the door much wider for resuming travel, albeit while continuing to carefully follow other health best practices," said Dow. "Acknowledging that vaccinations eliminate the need for testing and quarantines removes a key barrier to domestic travel. Rescinding the recommendation that international visitors must quarantine also is an important incremental step."
Dow also says the year-long halt on travel has devastated U.S. employment, with travel-supported jobs accounting for 65% of all U.S. jobs lost last year, and that this is an opportunity to begin reclaiming a lot of what's been lost.
"The travel industry's mantra throughout the pandemic has been to be guided by the science, which clearly shows that now is the right time for this move," Dow explained. "Meanwhile, it remains important that all eligible Americans get vaccinated as soon as they can in order to more quickly recover the ability for all to travel freely."
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.