People who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can travel freely domestically and internationally as long as they wear masks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.
In the new guidance, the government health agency added that vaccinated passengers do not need to self quarantine or take a coronavirus test before they depart, but they should continue to follow social distancing and mitigation measures.
“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new Covid-19 variants,” the announcement said.
Previous guidance had advised against unnecessary travel even for those who were fully vaccinated. The change comes after a federal study found evidence to suggest that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus. The CDC study followed 4,000 healthcare and other essential workers who had received the vaccine and found that the risk of infection dropped by 90 per cent.
CDC guidance already allows for Americans who are fully vaccinated can visit other vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing.
The update comes as some 40 per cent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 17 per cent are fully vaccinated. In total, more than 140 million vaccinations have been administered, according to the CDC.
But even as the US pushes ahead in vaccine distribution, the Biden administration has warned that a rise in cases across the country could undermine the progress made in the fight against the virus so far. Cases have risen by 10 per cent across the US compared to last week, amounting to some 60,000 cases per day, as some states have relaxed mitigation measures designed to stop the spread of the virus.
At a White House health briefing on Monday, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said she had a feeling of “impending doom” as cases were rising.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared,” she said.
President Joe Biden said that at least 90 per cent of the US population would be eligible for a vaccine by the end of April.
“We still are in a war with this deadly virus and we’re bolstering our defenses, but this war is far from won,” he said on Monday.
The US is currently administering some 2.8 million vaccine doses a day, putting it on target to vaccinate every adult in the country by 4 July.