CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in new guidance on Friday that fully vaccinated people can safely travel.

The agency further said fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before or after domestic travel unless the destination requires it. People should still wear a mask while they travel, the agency said, and people should get tested three to five days after international travel, given the increased risk of virus variants internationally.

Unvaccinated people are still advised not to travel, the CDC said.

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"CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated, because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19," the agency said in the guidance.

Still, the agency said the recommendations could change as more people become vaccinated.

"CDC will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, as rates of COVID-19 change, and as additional scientific evidence becomes available," it said.

At the same time as the agency issued the guidance, CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — Walensky gives green light for boosters Biden urges all eligible Americans to get a booster shot CDC director partially overrules panel, signs off on boosters MORE still sounded a cautionary note about travel overall at a White House press briefing on Friday.

"We know that right now we have a surging number of cases," she said when asked to clarify whether the agency was still calling on vaccinated people to avoid travel that is not essential. "I would advocate against general travel overall. Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so. If you are vaccinated it is lower risk."

The recommendation on travel for fully vaccinated people is a step toward reviving the travel industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

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The CDC received some questions last month for not lifting the advisory against travel when it issued its first set of guidelines for fully vaccinated people. At the time, it said fully vaccinated people could gather with each other without masks and could gather with one household that is not vaccinated as long as no one in it is at high risk.

Air travel numbers were already rising even before the CDC issued the new guidance. More than 1.5 million people went through security checkpoints on Thursday, according to the agency's data. That was still down from the 2.4 million from the same date in 2019.

The US Travel Association, an industry group, praised the new guidance.

“The CDC’s new travel guidance is a major step in the right direction that is supported by the science and will take the brakes off the industry that has been hardest hit by the fallout of COVID by far," said CEO Roger Dow. "As travel comes back, U.S. jobs come back."

The new guidance comes as the country makes steady progress on vaccinations but as rising cases, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, pose a short-term threat.

Almost 100 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to CDC figures, and more than 56 million are fully vaccinated.

Updated at 12:24 p.m.