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CDC says vaccinated people may travel

The CDC said that people who have been vaccinated are free to travel but should still wear masks, social distance and avoid crowds. No need to test or quarantine if traveling domestically.

If you travel outside the U.S., even if vaccinated, they still say you should still get a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S.

https://apnews.com/article/public-health-ali-khan-coronavirus-pandemic-coronavirus-vaccine-a657a7e7d12fff68531c5ff0e08ad717

Posted by
1586 posts

Headline should have been: "Surprising no one, travel is low risk if fully vaccinated, CDC says"

It's good news though. I know Maui is trying to get a vaccine waiver program in place ASAP - not that we need it based on crowd size.

Posted by
6512 posts

Per the article:
"Vaccinated people should still get a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S., and be tested three to five days after returning."

I wonder if how / if our current testing regime (which has been lacking and underwhelming from the get-go) will pick up any foreign strains that the current tests wouldn't normally be sensitive to. Perhaps they are, but my faith in testing is pretty low since the US doesn't do nearly as much to pick up the other "world" strains as, say, the UK does. I hope surveillance testing picks up commensurate with greater travel, especially international.

Posted by
17 posts

My wife and I have a trip to Honolulu and Kaanapali, Maui, scheduled for the end of May 2021 for our wedding anniversary. Currently Hawaii requires a negative test, no older than 72 hours, before arrival and there is no exception/exemption for those already vaccinated, which we are. Hopefully, Hawaii will follow this new CDC guidance by the time we get ready to go.

Posted by
1624 posts

"Suggest" a test prior to return? What does "should" mean?

The evidence shows that vaccinated people are at low risk of transmission.

Posted by
4947 posts

"Suggest" a test prior to return? What does "should" mean?

It means it is recommended, but not required. The CDC can only make recommendations, it has no enforcement authority, even the Federal Government, under Civil Law can only make requirements regarding Interstate/International Travel and Federal Property and Jurisdictions.

So yes, they are indicating vaccinated people may travel and are at lower risk, but non-vaccinated people may travel as well, and have been.

Even vaccinated people are still subject to rules, like in Hawaii, and the requirement to wear a mask at Airports and on planes is still a Federal requirement.

Posted by
5609 posts

The CDC's big BUT:
https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/02/health/cdc-travel-guidance-fully-vaccinated-wellness/index.html

Fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC
Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday, but travel still isn't
recommended at this time because of rising numbers of coronavirus
cases.

And while risk to self may be low, governments and and countries are concern about you infecting their citizens who may not be fully vaccinated.

Posted by
1624 posts

The evidence shows vaccinated people are not transmitters of the virus. Seems to me they should be allowed to travel freely.

The CDC seems to reverse itself daily.

Posted by
24626 posts

The evidence shows vaccinated people are not transmitters of the virus

That is a MUCH more definitive statement about that question than I have seen before. There is a general response in the UK that they still don't know if or how much, despite extensive studies.

Can you point to who is making an unqualified statement please. I'd love it to be true.

Posted by
6052 posts

This is from the CDC, updated 2nd April

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/fully-vaccinated-people.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fmore%2Ffully-vaccinated-people.html

Key point 3 on the front page.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have a symptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit the SARS-CoV-2 to others. However further investigation is ongoing”

Nowhere have I seen it said that vaccinated people definitely can’t transmit it and I have been looking A LOT for work purposes. And just to nip the cries of the positivity police in the bud, I am not being negative when I write this I am being realistic. We are experiencing great progress but baseless optimism is dangerous.

The key point is that if you decide to travel you should still wear your mask, social distance etc. The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% cover. I know of two people who caught the virus after vaccination. Both were told they had less severe symptoms than they would have had without it but one is still in hospital 5 weeks later..Anecdotal evidence but it shows it’s possible.

The progress we have made has been brilliant but we aren’t there yet.

Posted by
1624 posts

Of course studies don't say all vaccinated people don't transmit the virus. Guess what? "Some" vaccinated people can still get the virus and die. The vaccine has killed people. That's one way to look at it.

But, as mentioned, the body of evidence is growing and has done so since January. The trend is in the right direction and has been for months.

Is it possible vaccinated people could still die, transmit the virus, or get seriously ill? Of course. If that's the standard then nobody will every travel and we can practice COVID protocols until the sun becomes a red giant and consumes the Earth.

The news keeps getting better, but as expected some people insist on looking at a gift horse in the mouth. Whilst many of us are travelling this summer you will still hear this from some corners, "The sky is falling!"

Posted by
9070 posts

It could take years to get the answers to many questions about the Covid 19 vaccine.

The first polio vaccine was invented in 1953 and the disease has yet to be fully eradicated (cases still show up in Pakistan and Afghanistan.)

The first smallpox vaccine was invented in 1796 and the WHO finally said smallpox was eradicated in 1980.

I agree that mask wearing, social distancing and washing hands will be important to do for a very long time. (I've put face masks on my packing list. A small bottle of hand sanitizer is in my 3-1-1 bag.) But how long do we wait to open our borders and help our economies? Until Covid-19 is fully eradicated? Until we have a vaccination that proves 100% that people can't get it and can't carry it?

Nothing is 100% certain. You could get on a plane and head to your favorite destination and not make it. There is no guarantee that the plane will arrive.

The question has to be asked: Do countries close their borders for years until we get as close to perfect or do you minimize your odds against problems? Is it really better to keep out a fully vaccinated visitor from North America than to allow a non-vaccinated European into your country?

Remember, it is impossible to fully close a country. Goods still have to arrive. (People like to eat.) Who's to say a ship's crewman or truck driver or even a member of a flight crew isn't carrying the virus without symptoms? They can then easily pass it on to someone they come in contact with and it can spread again.

It also doesn't mean that if a country opens up it is a good idea to visit that country. If vaccination rates are low and cases are high, perhaps waiting would be advisable.

There is no perfect system. There are no documents that can't be counterfeited. You do what you can to minimize damage.
Every person has to decide for themselves what it acceptable for travel and what isn't.

If you are waiting for the day that masks and social distancing are no longer required for travel, well, you might as well sell your bags. You're not going to be traveling for a long time.

Posted by
6052 posts

BigMike did you actually read anything that was actually posted?
The comment you made - “The evidence shows vaccinated people are not transmitters of the virus” is factually incorrect at present. A small edit to add the words “potentially” and “less likely” would correct it.
If people want to travel whilst following the rules, that’s brilliant. But knowing the facts so you understand why the rules are important is vital.

But hey as I have learnt on this forum over the last year there’s not much point to this discussion is there? Why listen to people that actually know stuff, who have been working in this field from the start, when instead you can cling to your own world view?

Since the start of the pandemic accusations of negativity have been thrown at people on countless occasions. “Of course people will be able to travel in Autumn 2020,” “it’s ridiculous to think we will still be locked down at Christmas”, “I’m planning a trip for April 2021”. Any suggestion that this might nor be a possible or a good idea were slammed by many, but who was proved correct? The optimists or the realists?

Remarkable progress has been made in the last year,. Throwing it all away on the basis of wilful misinterpretation of the guidance would be one hell of a waste.

Posted by
85 posts

Clear as mud:

Do people returning to the US by air need by law a recent COVID test or not?

Stop shoulding on me.

Posted by
12118 posts

I wonder if how / if our current testing regime (which has been
lacking and underwhelming from the get-go)

Agnes, move to Texas. I can walk out my door, right now, and in less than 3 hours have a PCR test result for about $100. Or i can book an appointment for the day after tomorrow and get it done for free. I have done both.

Posted by
6512 posts

James, I wasn't referring to individual diagnostic testing like PCR, but rather population level surveillance tests (like this: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55413666). That sentence was quoted from the article (it doesn't make any sense now because original thread was edited).

I can get a PCR test for free in my city. The reason it's so easy now is that many people have totally let their guards down, became complacent / are expecting the vaccines to do everything, and testing has fallen by the wayside so there is plenty of slack capacity (just look at the rise in caseloads in the US over the past 2 weeks). Hopefully, developed countries like ours are on the lookout for any mutations or new virus strains being brought in especially as travel is relaxed and people intermingle with others in different continents - you need a robust surveillance testing infrastructure to do that. We haven't done well with either diagnostics or surveillance - we've been behind the curve the whole time.

Posted by
5758 posts

Thanks for this dose of reality, Emma. Very sobering.

The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% cover. I know of two people who caught the virus after vaccination. Both were told they had less severe symptoms than they would have had without it but one is still in hospital 5 weeks later..Anecdotal evidence but it shows it’s possible.

Posted by
517 posts

The Highest Authority, empowered by international consensus to have The Last Word on this topic, at least at my house is, of course, the Dear Wife: "You might travel domestically in 2022; Europe in 2023. And that's a Big Maybe. End of discussion." (Not that there was ever a discussion.)

Posted by
12118 posts

Agnes, got ya. I had your context wrong. Apologies. To you context, I'm not qualified to comment. I got my first PCR test here in Texas on October 9th. Easy Peasy, at drive trough. I think it was $85 and took an hour, and that place had been open at least since mid-August with very few customers (I drove past it every day). So on an individual basis, they are and have been quick for quite some time. We are fortunate I guess as I have seen a couple of posts here from people in Western European countries that have different experiences.. But I concede to you on your correction of my assumption.

EDIT: Okay, I cant let it go. My perception, and correct me if I am wrong, but during most of the pandemic, for the most part, the only people getting tested have been sick people? If there is any truth to that perception than I would submit that we have no idea of the infection rate; meaning the numbers are at best suspect. I would love to know with some certainty what percentage of the US population has been infected. If it proved to be 30% I would not be surprised, and I guess in some ways that would be good news.

EDIT 2: I read an article that said there was a CDC study that indicated that vaccinated people dont spread the COVID. The article had a link to the study. It was on the CDC website, but despite my best efforts I couldn't begin to understand all the medical mumbo jumbo. Again, if true, excellent news.

Posted by
85 posts

Update:

In today's NYT story in about the 19th paragraph, it does say you need a recent (3 days) negative COVID test to fly back into the US.

But plenty of shoulding going on until then.

Add today's stellar "journalists" to milquetoast bureaucrats, and you got yourself a party, y'all.

Posted by
2373 posts

The “evidence” and “studies” that BigMike quotes simply don’t exist.

Good news however is this https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2101927. Here health care workers in LA where there was a surge and where their expected exposure to COVID would be higher than the general public, had a very low (but not zero) incidence of a positive test at greater than 2 weeks after the second dose. Anecdotally, I know of an unpublished cohort at another university medical center where continued weekly screening of vaccinated workers has yielded zero positive tests starting at two weeks after the second dose. These are very good outcomes. It’s easy to extrapolate and say that these vaccinated individuals cannot transmit COVID, but we don’ know that. But there is a growing body of evidence that these vaccines really work well. If the anti-vaxxers don’t blow it for all of us, vaccination along with medications currently in trial which early on appear to stop COVID (as Tamiflu does with influenza) could spell the end of this pandemic and a future where COVID exists but does not threaten life to the extent it does now.

Posted by
12118 posts

This article references a CDC study that seems to suggest that vaccinated people dont spread COVID. I tried reading the actual study that is linked in the article, but I am too stupid to understand it. And no, nothing is life is 100% but death and ..... Still, if true, it could relegate COVID to being as dangerous to the general public as the common flu. Let's hope it turns out to be correct. Till then follow the law on masks, distancing and travel and beyond the law, do those things that help your neighbor feel more at ease. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/04/cdc-data-suggests-vaccinated-dont-carry-cant-spread-virus.html

Posted by
203 posts

@Emma and @Alan: Thank you both for your educated, informed, scientific-based input, rather than blanket opinion-driven comments masquerading as “evidence.”

Posted by
4136 posts

For places outside the US allowing/desiring US tourists, I wonder whether their airports could potentially be making Covid19 tests available? Show up early, get your test and its results, board your flight. As long as your flight and any additional connections don’t take more than 2 1/2 days, you’ll have met that reentry requirement, and put another seat into the airline’s seat. This all is provided that you tested negative, of course.

Vaccines are certainly providing a light at the end of the tunnel. We are nearing its end, but it’s still long.

Posted by
12118 posts

Cyn, several airports do. The one I am most familiar with is Istanbul, just plan a 3 hr layover. Turkish Air serves most of Europe. I guess you take the risk you won't pass, but you can always do a quick in the US before you leave.

Posted by
207 posts

This latest news from the CDC sounds like it could be a game changer. Still risky though, for travelers and host countries alike, especially with the various variants floating about. But I'll take it as encouraging news, no more no less. I hope the EU finds its footing with their vaccine rollout for the sake of the health of their people.

Posted by
125 posts

I know the resort I have booked in Costa Rica is providing tests for guests returning to the US. I imagine that service will become more popular to attract more guests.

Posted by
122 posts

I just read nightmare article from USA Today about Americans stranded in Cancun after positive Covid result. You have to be prepared to spend the 10-14 days in quarantine. One person in article flew to Tijuana, crossed land border then fly home to Kentucky.

Posted by
2737 posts

One person in article flew to Tijuana, crossed land border then fly
home to Kentucky.
Whaaaaat? What kind of person would do that? And why is there no requirement for a negative test at the land border?

Posted by
2737 posts

I thought so. So you were just trying to get me in trouble!

James E- I'm sorry, but I don't understand why you think I'm trying to get you in trouble. I was referring to the article from Mexitokyo and the person who knew he was covid positive but still flew, exposing countless people. I'm positive you wouldn't be that person.

Posted by
6052 posts

Mike just to clarify, your original post was factually incorrect. People queried it and others provided additional information to ensure accuracy. This is not posting a “doctoral thesis”.

Regarding staying “calm”, I think it would perhaps be useful to compare your posts with those of others and then decide who is staying calm and who isn’t?

I was previously a regular poster on this site but I decided to stay away for a while because of the bullying atmosphere generated by a few posters over the last year. I have always been more than happy to have a “discussion” on this site ( to the occasional annoyance of the webmaster).. Discussion and the ability to discuss differences of opinion is vital if any of us are to learn, but it needs to be done with respect, something that I think is lacking in some posts.

I was brought up to believe that If you have to resort to name calling and insults you have lost the argument. I really hope people do get their planned holidays this year because based on the obnoxious behaviour of some on this site they obviously need the break!

Posted by
4343 posts

Emma, I am with you on this. The issue isn’t potentially getting ill yourself, it’s also potentially infecting people in the country you are visiting. Testing and vaccinations have gone a long way to making social interaction and travelling possible at some point, but they aren’t fool proof. We won’t have to wait until there is zero chance before we start to travel, but we do need more clarification as to exactly what the vaccines mean for transmission and infection, which will come with time.

My brother lives in Australia where life goes on as normal with full social interaction, despite nobody getting vaccinated. They had the right idea and closed their border quickly. He doesn’t think they will be allowed to fly internationally until 2022.