Coronavirus US: is it possible to travel without restrictions after the vaccine?

The CDC has revised its covid-19 guidelines for vaccinated Americans to make it easier to travel this summer, both for domestic and international destinations.

Coronavirus US: is it possible to travel without restrictions after the vaccine?
Elijah Nouvelage REUTERS

The largest vaccination effort in American history continues as health authorities look to get the life-saving shots distributed as quickly as possible. As of 16 May, more than 274 million doses of covid-19 vaccines has been administered, at an average of 1.98 million per day over the last week.

The aim, of course, is to allow the country to return to some form of normality, potentially even in time for some summer holiday plans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as still advising against travel for anyone who has not been fully vaccinated, but those who are should be able to travel.

What do they mean by ‘fully vaccinated’?

Most of the vaccines administered in the United States have been two-shot pharmaceuticals, meaning that they require two doses for immunity to be reached. However it is not quite that straight forward.

If you receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, you still need to wait until two weeks after receiving the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated. In the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will also need to wait for two weeks after the shot.

Also bear in mind that any underlying conditions or medication that weaken your immune system may mean that you are still susceptible to infection. If you think this may be the case consult your healthcare provider for more information.

Foreign travel back on the cards for vaccinated Americans

If you satisfy those conditions you can start to enjoy a life that is closer to normality after the CDC made some significant changes to its guidance. As many will start to plan their summer holidays they will be delighted to know that travel is now permitted.

Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to get tested or self-quarantine for any domestic travel, good news for the nation’s tourist spots after a tough year.

There is also a much brighter picture for those hoping to travel internationally, although the rules there are more complicated and will depend on the destination country’s own rules. The new guidance from the CDC does not require travellers to get tested before leaving the United States and you will not be obliged to self-quarantine upon your return.

However you will still be required to show a negative covid-19 test before boarding your flight to return to the US, or show documentation of recovery from coronavirus. They also suggest that you get tested 3-5 days after returning to the States but this is no longer a requirement.