CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People May Travel

by Kristine Cannon
Piyamas Dulmunsumphun/EyeEm/Getty

Fully vaccinated? You’re clear to travel according to the CDC

Hello, and welcome to Friday, where we have actual good news to share: According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people are permitted to travel. And, do you hear that? That choir of angels?

Published today on the CDC’s website, the updated guidance states that “people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.” More specifically, fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it, nor do fully vaccinated travelers need to self-quarantine.

For international travel, travelers do not need to be tested before their trips (again, unless their destination requires it), but afterward, they should self-monitor for symptoms and isolate and get tested if they do develop symptoms.

Until today’s announcement, officials were still discouraging people who had been fully vaccinated from traveling.

While fully vaccinated travelers are not required to get tested or self-quarantine, fully vaccinated travelers should, however, continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely. That includes wearing a mask, continuing to social distance, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer.

Before you book a flight, though, let’s clear up what “fully vaccinated” means.

For starters, fully vaccinated does not mean you received one of two doses of a two-dose vaccine (such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) and you think you’re in the clear. No, you must receive both doses and wait the two weeks after the second shot, to allow the vaccine to do its job. By not allowing the vaccine to work its magic, you’re not allowing your body to develop both antibody and cellular immune responses, both of which are needed for protection against the virus. Same goes for if you received the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine: Sure, it’s a one-shot vaccine, but wait the two weeks.

If you are not fully vaccinated, wait to travel — “because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the CDC states.

“To maximize the protection you get from the vaccine, you should be two weeks beyond your second dose before you expose yourself in travel or other somewhat higher-risk circumstances,” Sten Vermund, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, tells The Washington Post.

The updated travel guidance from the CDC is great news for those of us who’ve been cooped up for over a year and itching to explore. And with now close to 3 million people getting vaccinated per day — and nearly 40 percent of all adults having received at least one dose of the vaccine — flights are likely to be booked in no time.

“With millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, it is important to update the public on the latest science about what fully vaccinated people can do safely, now including guidance on safe travel,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “We continue to encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn, so we can begin to safely take steps back to our everyday lives. Vaccines can help us return to the things we love about life.”

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.