A health expert says you can travel after the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine, but you should still avoid crowds
  • People want to know if they can travel after getting the first dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • An expert told Insider that it’s relatively safe for partially vaccinated people to travel.
  • You should avoid crowded tourist destinations, continue to wear a mask, and social distance.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As more Americans receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which both require two doses, people question what is and isn’t safe to do in between shots. One question that comes to mind: Is it safe to travel after the first shot?


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Insider’s health reporters Andrea Michelson and Kelsie Sandoval previously reported that it is relatively safe for partially vaccinated people to travel.

“A person traveling that’s partially vaccinated is at lower risk than they were prior to being vaccinated,” Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, previously told Insider.

The first dose will provide some protection, which means you’re less likely to get sick if you’re exposed to the virus. Early research on the Pfizer shot also suggests that the vaccine could lower your risk of passing the virus to others.

However, to get the full benefits of the vaccine, you need two doses. While you’re partially protected, it’s still important to avoid crowded, indoor spaces.

It’s not the mode of transportation – it’s what you do when you travel

Adalja told Insider that partially vaccinated travelers should prioritize avoiding crowded areas on their trip, which can be hot spots for COVID-19 spread.

For example, crowded spring break tourist spots were linked to the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.

If you decide to travel while partially vaccinated, Adalja said you should skip crowded bars and indoor dining. You should also continue to wear a mask and keep your distance from others.

The safest approach is to wait until you’re fully vaccinated

While the first shot will provide some protection against the coronavirus, the safest way to travel is after you’re fully vaccinated. Currently, the CDC still recommends people avoid travel and encourages people who do travel to get tested for COVID-19 before and after their trips.

As Insider previously reported, health experts believe it’s best to wait at least two weeks after the second shot before embarking on a trip.

This ensures the shots have had enough time to take effect.

Although the data shows it’s unlikely fully vaccinated people can spread the virus, there are still some minor concerns, so it’s best for people to continue to wear a mask and social distance after being vaccinated.

If you’re on the hunt for a destination open to US travelers, this map outlines the international and domestic destinations open and welcoming American visitors.

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