CDC new guidance for US travellers

The USA Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has issued its latest guidance for Americans who have been vaccinated.

The CDC guidance states that those who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

People are considered fully vaccinated when they are:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

If people don’t meet these requirements, regardless of age, they are not fully vaccinated so must keep taking all precautions until fully vaccinated.

If they have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, they may not be fully protected even if fully vaccinated. Even after vaccination, they may need to continue taking all precautions.

If Americans are fully vaccinated:

  • For travel in the United States, they do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • They need to pay close attention to the situation at any international destination before traveling outside the United States.
  • They do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless the destination requires it.
  • They still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
  • They should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
  • They do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

For now, even if fully vaccinated:

  • If they travel, they should still take steps to protect people. They will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transport travelling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Fully vaccinated international travellers arriving in the USA are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.

According to the guidance, what is known is that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death, and that vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19.

The CDC states that what is still not known is how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others. Also not known is how well the vaccines protect people with weakened immune systems, including people who take immunosuppressive medications, or how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people.

The CDC guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently authorised for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.  The guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorised for emergency use by the World Health Organisation (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford).