How the Newest CDC Guidelines May Impact Your Travel Plans
After navigating a year through a pandemic, many families are looking to safely bring some normalcy back to their lives. A family tradition for many is planning a summer vacation. Thanks to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the increased access to COVID-19 vaccinations, heading to the beach for some sun and fun is a possibility. Dr. Long Nguyen, Family Medicine Physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Wautoma, walks through the latest travel recommendations.
“We want people to remember that travel can increase your chance of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Nguyen. “It would be a safe practice to delay traveling until you’re vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated and must travel or will be traveling with children, who are ineligible for the vaccine at this time, there are some safe behaviors and precautions people can take.”
In general, people are considered vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
The CDC said if you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may not be fully protected even if you’re fully vaccinated. You may want to consider delaying your travel plans. Be sure to talk with your health care provider for additional recommendations.
According to the new guidelines from the CDC, fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 and can travel safely within the United States.
“It’s important that everyone still follow safety precautions and keep using proper hygiene practices,” said Dr. Nguyen. “Fully vaccinated people should still follow those precautions as well, especially while traveling.”
The CDC recommends fully vaccinated travelers practice safety measures including:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
- Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
“Some of the new CDC guidelines include updates to testing and quarantine,” Dr. Nguyen explained. “Make sure to plan ahead and learn what guidelines or mandates may apply where you’re traveling, even if you’re familiar with the place, there may be new health updates. Be sure to also check with your airline carrier to make sure you have any required testing and/or documentation for safe travels and check back often for any new updates that could be available.”
Review CDC Guidelines
The CDC says fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination or airline requires it and they do not need to self-quarantine. The CDC website offers a travel planner with the latest health recommendations for where you’re planning to travel.
After travel, the CDC says it’s important to watch for COVID-19 symptoms for yourself or for anyone you traveled with. Be sure to isolate if you experience symptoms and get tested for COVID-19.
If you are not vaccinated, there are some precautions that can help limit your risk, including:
Before you travel:
- Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip
While you travel:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.
- Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from anyone not traveling with you
- Wash your hands often
After you travel:
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel
- Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days
- If you test positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected
- If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel
- Avoid being around people who are at an increased risk of severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not
- Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements
“Taking all of the CDC travel precautions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Nguyen. “We are all ready to get back to fun events like family vacations, and following recommendations will allow us to do so safely.”