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You don’t need to quarantine after traveling if you’re vaccinated, health experts say, but you should still take precautions

Summary List PlacementAs more Americans are fully vaccinated, tourism is on the verge of a booming comeback. But is it necessary is to quarantine after your bucket-list vacation or visit to family if you're fully vaccinated? "I have a straightforward answer: No, it is not necessary to quarantine after travel,"...

Family with children and face masks outdoors by hotel in summer, holiday concept. - stock photo

Summary List Placement

As more Americans are fully vaccinated, tourism is on the verge of a booming comeback. But is it necessary is to quarantine after your bucket-list vacation or visit to family if you’re fully vaccinated?

“I have a straightforward answer: No, it is not necessary to quarantine after travel,” Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told Insider about fully vaccinated people. 

At the time of writing, the CDC hasn’t issued specific travel guidance for fully vaccinated people, and it continues to urge people not to travel.

However, Wen pointed to the CDC’s most recent guidance that says vaccinated people do not need to quarantine when exposed to a person with coronavirus. The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two weeks after the single-shot Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine. 

“If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms,” according to the CDC’s guidance for vaccinated people

Dr. Carlos del Rio, a distinguished professor of medicine at Emory University, agreed that quarantining might not be necessary, but he said he encourages testing before, during, and after traveling. 

“I think increasingly the answer is no,” he told Insider in an email about the need to quarantine post-travel. “At this time, however, and due to the fact that there is still a lot of community transmission, I continue to believe testing is important.”

He said vaccinated travelers should get a test a few days before the trip, four to five days after you arrive at a destination, and once again when you get back home.

What you do on your trip affects your need to quarantine 

Couple enjoying the empty Pantheon in Rome, wearing protective face masks during COVID-19 pandemic - stock photo

Preeti Malani, MD, chief health officer at the University of Michigan, told Insider that what you’re doing when you travel matters more than your vaccination status.

She’s taking a low-risk trip soon, where she’ll drive to visit family and stay at their house overnight, and is not planning to quarantine upon her return to Michigan. The whole group has been taking precautions, she said, and some of them — herself included — have gotten the vaccine.

“If you’re fully vaccinated and you’re being very careful on your trip, and when you come back, you continue to be careful, and you’re not having symptoms, there’s likely very little benefit to having you quarantine,” Malani said.

Even if you’re vaccinated and opt to not quarantine yourself after a trip, it’s still important to stay cautious in public spaces, Malani said.

You have some freedom when you’re in private residences with other vaccinated people (or with a single household of low-risk, unvaccinated folks), but you should mask up and social distance if you’re out in public at a restaurant, for instance.

Wen also said vaccinated travelers should continue to avoid crowds and indoor dining. For example, she urged travelers to opt for a park or museum over an indoor bar or concert. 

“It’s not the transit itself, it’s what people do after that,” Wen said. “If people are then going to their destinations and they’re eating out in restaurants, going to bars, going to concerts, that’s when the risk begins to accumulate.”

Avoiding crowds, wearing a mask, and social distancing will make your trip safer and ultimately reduce your need to quarantine.

If you’re traveling with a partially vaccinated group, it’s best to err on the side of caution

Woman listening to music while flying on an airplane wearing a facemask - stock photo

Wen encouraged people to think about their family or household when assessing the need to travel. If you’re coming back from a trip to a household that includes vaccinated and unvaccinated people, it might be best to quarantine. 

“I think that people should use an abundance of caution and think about the risk in their own family,” Wen said. “You don’t want to be spreading coronavirus to the unvaccinated members of your family.”

Malani also recommended taking time to quarantine if you’re traveling with a partially vaccinated group.

“The biggest thing is, are the vulnerable people in that household or in that bubble vaccinated? And for the folks who aren’t vaccinated, can you quarantine ahead of travel, at least for a week, so you’re trying to limit that exposure?” she said.

As more people get vaccinated, destinations are beginning to adjust their quarantine rules, but travelers should still follow local quarantine guidelines when arriving at a destination or returning home from a trip.

If you’re on the hunt for a destination open to US travelers, this map outlines the international and domestic destinations open and welcoming American visitors. 

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