After a long year staying home, travel is starting to pick up again in the United States. That may have you wondering if it is safe to fly now, especially after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. And if so, what are the rules?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance for air travel on April 2. After evaluating the research, they determined that people who were fully vaccinated were at low risk while traveling by air, provided they continue to observe COVID-19 precautions.
Fully vaccinated means that at least two weeks has elapsed since the completion of your COVID-19 injection series. For Pfizer and Moderna that’s two weeks after the second shot, for Johnson & Johnson it’s two weeks after the single dose.
For domestic travel, if a traveler is fully vaccinated they do not need to quarantine or get tested upon arrival at their destination, unless the state requires it. Rules for international travel vary by country, and you should check with the country you’ll be flying to for their guidance. Fully vaccinated people must still have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to return to the U.S, according to the CDC. They are also required to get a COVID-19 test within three to five days after returning from international travel.
It's still wise to be vigilant
The precautions that the CDC urges people to continue observing include wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, socially distancing, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer often.
Dr. Robert Amler, dean of New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice, told Healthline, “This is because many Americans are still unvaccinated. They can still get COVID-19 without noticeable symptoms and continue to spread the virus to other unvaccinated people. In addition, a very small fraction of fully vaccinated people may still be at risk because no vaccine works 100 percent of the time. Also, emerging variants of the virus add a measure of uncertainty.”
While you’re flying, experts say it’s advisable to keep your mask on and avoid eating and drinking (via Washington Post). With airlines once again selling every seat on a flight, it’s impossible to socially distance. For best protection, get a mask that fits snug to your nose and cheeks and keep it on throughout the trip.
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