A new goal for COVID-19 vaccinations was announced by the President in early March. The goal, which is to make every adult in the U.S. eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, 2021 has many people wondering: What can I do after I get my vaccine? Is it safe to travel? Can I book a summer vacation?
Here’s what to know about travel after the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 Testing Before Traveling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend delaying international and domestic travel. If you must travel, the CDC guidelines require that you have a viral test for COVID-19 one to three days before traveling.
In addition, you should be aware that every air passenger coming into the United States must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a plane to the U.S.
Guidelines also recommend that upon returning home, you should stay home and quarantine for a full week, despite a negative test. If you traveled by car, bus, or train, you should self-quarantine for 10 days after returning home.
How long does protection from the COVID-19 vaccine last?
The CDC makes clear that to date, we do not know how long COVID-19 vaccines will last. The CDC will continue to update the public regularly as more information is available.
Is it safe to travel after my COVID-19 vaccine?
To date, the CDC is still recommending delaying domestic or international travel. However, those who must or choose to travel should know that face masks are required on all public transportation and in public transportation hubs including:
- Bus stations
- Train stations
- Subway stations
If you must travel, the CDC has issued safety guidelines. These guidelines include:
- Wear a mask when in public
- Get fully vaccinated before traveling
- Avoid crowds, and maintain social distance in public places
- Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
How soon after my COVID-19 vaccine can I travel?
The CDC advises against domestic or international travel at this time, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated. For those who must travel, the CDC urges travelers to follow all safety guidelines such as:
- Wearing a mask in public
- Maintaining six feet of distance from others
- Avoiding poorly ventilated spaces
- Avoiding crowds
What protection does the COVID-19 vaccine offer?
It is important to note that you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks after your single Johnson & Johnson shot.
Per the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting those fully vaccinated from getting sick, if they contract coronavirus. However, as the CDC notes, because we are still learning as we go, how the vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19, we need to continue to follow all public health guidelines.
Follow Public Health Guidelines While Traveling
In addition to wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent handwashing, the CDC urges all travelers to remember that certain activities can increase the risk for COVID-19 exposure. These activities include:
- Attending large social gatherings (weddings, funerals, graduation, etc.)
- Attending mass gatherings (sports events, concerts, parades, etc.)
- Visiting crowded venues (bars, restaurants, concert halls, movie theaters, etc).
- Using public transportation
- Traveling via cruise ship or riverboat
Although the U.S. is making steady progress in the vaccination program, even those fully vaccinated should delay all non-essential travel. If you choose to travel after your vaccine, be sure to follow these additional safety suggestions:
- Bring extra masks and hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
- Check all travel restrictions before you depart
Finally, the CDC advises against all travel, if you or any of your traveling companions have been exposed to someone who had symptoms of COVID-19. Likewise, if you are not feeling well, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, it is important to stay home. You may still be able to spread the virus to others even if you only have minor symptoms.
Jen Hadley is a freelance writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, who writes extensively about the medical, legal, health care, and consumer products industries. Jen is a regular contributor to RxSaver.
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS., is a pharmacist who earned her PharmD from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She maintains an active practice, serving as a Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacotherapy Specialist at a large metropolitan teaching hospital in New York City. Carina has also published in pharmacy journals and works as a consultant reviewing medical articles for publication.
The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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