New CDC guidelines for vaccinated people: Agency still advises against travel

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided new COVID-19 guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Monday including some eased restrictions such as gathering inside without masks. The CDC, however, didn’t provide an update or relax travel measures.

The agency maintained that Americans should refrain from traveling, referring to the organization’s travel guidance last updated on Feb. 16.

“Because of the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 during travel, fully vaccinated people should still take all CDC-recommended precautions before, during, and after travel,” read a CDC statement provided to USA TODAY by spokesperson Caitlin Shockey.

“While we work to vaccinate more people, prevention measures such as pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel self-quarantine, along with wearing well-fitted masks, will help us prevent spread of COVID-19,” the CDC continued.

While the restrictions remain at this time, the CDC said it may update travel recommendations for fully vaccinated people as that number rises and as they learn more about how vaccines are working in the “real world.”

While the CDC recommended in February to “delay travel and stay home” according to its website, it did provide guidance points as to how to travel if you must:

  • Get fully vaccinated, if you are eligible and able. Then wait two weeks after full vaccination to travel.
  • Get tested between one and three days prior to traveling.
  • Check travel restrictions in advance.
  • Wear a face mask covering both your nose and your mouth.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands.
  • Bring extra face masks and sanitizer.
  • Try to avoid contact with anyone who may be sick.
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose.

While travel remains off the table, the agency’s new guidance states those who have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccine may get together with other fully vaccinated individuals in small groups inside their homes without masks or physical distancing. They can also visit unvaccinated people from one other household who are at low risk for severe disease. The guidelines also say fully vaccinated people don’t need to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test if they’ve been exposed unless they’re symptomatic. However, they should still monitor for symptoms for 14 days even if they’re not in quarantine. 

Vaccinated individuals should still wear a mask and social distance in public settings and avoid medium- to large-sized gatherings. “Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time,” the CDC said on its website. “Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

The pace of vaccinations has ramped up so more than two million Americans are getting vaccinated per day.

The Biden administration said Tuesday there will be enough vaccine for every adult in the U.S. by May thanks to a deal brokered between pharmaceutical giants Merck and Johnson & Johnson, but health experts say the U.S. could reach that milestone by mid-April.

Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

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