Coronavirus: Fully vaccinated people can safely travel, CDC says

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated travel guidance Friday for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that “fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.”

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“People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States,” CDC officials said in updated guidance posted Friday on the agency’s website. Officials said fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before or after traveling, unless their destinations require such measures, and that they do not need to self-quarantine.

A person is considered fully vaccinated after at least two weeks have passed since they’d gotten their final vaccine dose, according to health officials.

The CDC urged fully vaccinated people to continue following other measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing, noting that the number of infections reported nationwide has been slowly and steadily rising in recent weeks.

“We simply cannot yet afford to relax the prevention strategies,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, said Friday at a news briefing.

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“The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely and it is important for us to provide that guidance even in the context of rising cases. At the same time, we must balance this guidance with the fact that most Americans are not yet fully vaccinated, which is likely contributing to our rise in cases, and that means we have to continue to reinforce messages about the critical importance of COVID-19 prevention measures.”

Walensky said Friday that people should still avoid travel, if possible.

“While we believe that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases,” she said, pointing to CDC data that shows a slight rise in reported numbers of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Last month, CDC officials cautioned people against travelling, even if they’d been fully vaccinated. The agency loosened some restrictions for vaccinated individuals, allowing for small, unmasked gatherings of fully vaccinated people indoors and allowing for vaccinated people to gather with unvaccinated people in small groups, unmasked, provided none of the unvaccinated people and no unvaccinated people within their households are at high risk for severe cases of COVID-19.

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As of Thursday morning, nearly 100 million Americans have received at least one dose of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the latest data available from the CDC. About 56 million people across the U.S. have so far been fully vaccinated, officials said, amounting to nearly 17% of the total population.

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The U.S. continues to lead the world with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. As of Friday morning, 30.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with the viral infection, resulting in over 553,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Globally, 129.7 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 2.8 million deaths.

Check back for updates to this developing story.