Government health data suggests people are unlikely to get sick while traveling post-vaccination, but new guidance stops short of clearing vaccinated people for travel.
(CN) — New guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says that it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to travel while masked and taking other precautions. But the agency’s director still does not recommend unnecessary travel.
The CDC’s announcement came on Friday, as the United States is seeing, for the second week in a row, a rise in Covid-19 cases. During the month of March, Americans traveled more than they did in any month since the pandemic began.
It was on Monday that CDC Director Dr. Rachel Walensky warned of “impending doom” as U.S. cases have surged.
Now, in light of the new information about traveling post-vaccination, Walensky spoke to the mix of information being presented by the CDC.
“On the one hand, we are telling you we are worried about rising cases, to wear a mask, and to avoid travel,” Walensky said. “Yet on the other hand, we are saying that if you are vaccinated, evolving data suggest that traveling is likely lower risk.
“The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely,” she continued, “and it is important for us to provide that guidance, even in the context of rising cases.”
The CDC’s updated travel guidance says that fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19, and that they need not get a coronavirus test before or after travel, unless their destination requires it.
Nor do fully vaccinated travelers need to self-quarantine — but they should still wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and frequently wash their hands.
Guidance has not changed for the roughly 80% of Americans are still unvaccinated. Low rates of vaccination are likely contributing to the uptick in Covid-19 cases, Walensky said Friday.
“I would advocate against general travel overall,” Walensky said, noting that “our guidance is silent” on its recommendations as to fully vaccinated people traveling.
Officials did not speak to any enforcement policies that would determine whether travelers have been vaccinated.
The travel guidance update follows the CDC’s March 8 announcement, saying it’s safe for vaccinated people to gather indoors without a mask, and without getting tested.
In the intervening weeks, states announced broadening Covid-19 vaccine eligibility. While individual state timelines vary, all seem to be on track to make every adult eligible by the May 1 deadline put out by the Biden administration.
Now, the federal government is turning its efforts toward making sure enough people are willing to get vaccinated to reach the goal of herd immunity.
Part of that effort is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ newly announced Covid-19 Community Corps.
The American Medical Association, Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the NAACP are among the thousands of HHS partners, which span faith groups; community and civic organizations; and industry groups, all encouraging Americans to get vaccinated.
“Not everyone listens to the same individuals, or trusts the same institutions,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on Friday. “Misinformation also spreads quickly.”
In addressing the role of misinformation in how individuals’ vaccination decision, Murthy noted that trusted community members — doctors, friends, family members and religious leaders — are most successful in convincing others to get their doses.
“We want to support these trusted voices, because they have the power to help turn this pandemic around,” Murthy said.
The goal is to reach Americans “from all corners of our country,” Murthy said.
He echoed other public health experts in saying that people’s minds can change as they learn about the science behind the vaccines, and the reasons why vaccines were developed so quickly last year.
“Despite the suffering that Covid has caused, this pandemic has reminded us of a fundamental truth: that we need each other,” Murthy said. “Together, we have the power to end this pandemic.”