CDC Changes Tune On Covid Guidance For Vaccinated Travelers


By Molly Walker

Those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to test before or after traveling domestically or internationally from the U.S., the CDC said in updated guidance on Friday.

Unless required to do so by the international destination, fully vaccinated people no longer require a test, and they no longer have to self-quarantine after returning to the U.S., unless required to do so by a state or local jurisdiction.

In a statement, CDC said fully vaccinated people can travel "at low risk to themselves," as they are at "low risk to get or spread COVID-19."

However, the agency still recommends that even fully vaccinated travelers wear a mask in public, and take other public health precautions, such as social distancing and avoiding crowds, and practicing hand hygiene.

And, during Friday's White House briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said it would be better if vaccinated people stayed home. "I would advocate against general travel overall," she said.

CDC defines "fully vaccinated" as at least 2 weeks after receiving the last recommended dose of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Why the guidance change? The agency cited "recent studies" of real-world evidence proving vaccines work outside of a clinical trial environment. The statement did not elaborate as to how an individual can prove they are fully vaccinated, although the Department of HHS has thus far shown no appetite for enforcing the controversial idea of "vaccine passports," leaving it up to private industry as to how they will handle proof of vaccination.

Some travel guidance remains unchanged. CDC still recommends fully vaccinated people have proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to the U.S., and get tested 3-5 days later.

Meanwhile, nothing has changed for travelers who are not fully vaccinated. CDC continues to recommend that not fully vaccinated travelers get a COVID-19 test 1-3 days prior to domestic or international travel, as well as 3-5 days after returning. Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel and a negative test, or 10 days after travel if not tested.

CDC also said those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid non-essential domestic travel.


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