Travelers are ready to be on the move again, but preparing for a journey looks different these days. As vaccination rates rise around the world, so do new questions about how we can move through it. You may be wondering where you can travel, and if you can even take to the skies without being fully vaccinated. If you’re especially eager to get back out into parts unknown, you may even be asking: “Is it safe to travel while partially vaccinated?”
A quick search of this question results in a lot of different info (and several varying responses). The answer is not cut and dry. However, we’ve collected some specifics to help you make smart travel decisions while in-between vaccine doses. Use this info to keep yourself (and others) safe while considering your next getaway or staycation.
Travel restrictions within the United States are changing across county, state and federal lines. Potential regulations may still exist at your destination. Check current CDC guidelines before booking travel. Furthermore, if you’re planning to visit an international destination, be sure to check the latest travel guidance for your locale.
The last update of this information was on July 11, 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. For further, up-to-date information, please review CDC travel information.
Do I need a COVID vaccine to travel?
At this stage of the pandemic, every vaccine helps in the fight against COVID. But is one dose for those vaccines that require two doses enough to keep yourself and others safe from the spread of COVID? The FDA has approved three vaccines for emergency use in the United States. Of those, only the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine requires a single dose, while vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer (BioNTech) require two doses.
Various studies, like these published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have demonstrated that while the two-dose vaccines are most effective after a fully completed regimen, a single dose still provides increased protection against both the contraction and spread of COVID-19.
Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, said this to reporters at Insider about traveling between jabs:
However, Adalja also recommended avoiding crowded areas and indoor spaces for those who have taken only one dose of a recommended two-shot vaccine. Experts also recommend continued mask-wearing until two weeks after the final shot.
Still, the answer varies depending on where you want to travel. Domestically, the CDC is currently recommending that people remain cautious and delay travel until after full vaccination is complete. Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated on the 15th day after receiving the second shot of a two-dose series. For partially vaccinated travelers who want to travel, the CDC advises following the same recommendations posted for unvaccinated travelers.
Domestically or internationally, if you’re planning to do any travel while partially vaccinated, it’s important to further research what the local health authorities are saying. Check the government’s website of the country you wish to visit to see what its current requirements are. Most nations across the world require a mix of testing and quarantining upon arrival, while others present exceptions for fully vaccinated visitors. Additionally, check the World Health Organization (WHO) for general travel guidance. You can also join Skyscanner’s newsletter to get the latest up-to-date information on changing travel restrictions sent right to your inbox.
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What is the latest updates on vaccine rollouts in the US?
As reported by NPR, the U.S. has delivered more than 334 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of July 2021, inoculating more than 159 million residents since the rollout began on December 14, 2020. Data collected by the New York Times reports that as of July 2021, 67% of Americans 18 and older have received at least one dose, with almost 60% being fully vaccinated. That shows that there are a lot of partially vaccinated folks waiting to travel!
When vaccination rates increased around the U.S. in April, the CDC lifted its recommended travel restrictions. Many states were quick to follow that easement. However, two states (Hawaii and Kansas) still require some travelers to potentially quarantine upon arrival.
Do I need proof of full or partial vaccination while traveling around the United States?
Currently, Americans do not need proof of vaccination to travel around the US. It does not appear that the United States will require vaccine documentation for domestic travelers, per comments from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
However, when the U.S. eventually lifts restrictions on leisure travel from abroad, proof of vaccination for international tourists may be required. Official proof of vaccinations is required to visit many countries outside America, and one state domestically—Hawaii.
Those wishing to travel to Hawaii who are not fully vaccinated can participate in the state’s Safe Travels Pre-Testing Program, which requires a negative COVID test from an approved testing partner before boarding their plane to Hawaii. Those who do not participate in the program are subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine. All travelers must also fill out a health form. In Maui County, tourists must also download the AlohaSafe travel app, which provides a place to store COVID test results and receive potential exposure alerts.
In various parts of the world, governments have been testing the effectiveness of a vaccine passport that allows fluid travel for those who have taken the jab. The European Union has established the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which has been in use since the beginning of June. It aims to allow citizens of the 27 member states (and several non-EU countries) to again travel freely across internal EU borders. This “Green” Certificate compiles personal data on vaccination status, test results or past COVID recovery. In some places (such as Italy), U.S. tourists are required to have a Green Certificate to travel.
Where can I travel while partially vaccinated in 2021?
The number of accessible international destinations has expanded over the past few months, with many (formerly closed) countries in Europe reopening to fully vaccinated American vacationers. The Council of the European Union added America to its “white list” in June. Technically, this re-opened travel to all Americans (even unvaccinated ones), although individual member nations set their own vaccination requirements. This EU map has specific details for each member nation.
Travel destinations in Africa, South America and the Caribbean are open to guests regardless of vaccination status. In those places, proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure is required and may be accompanied by a rapid antigen test upon arrival.
Another thing to note: Many nations are limiting travel and mandating quarantines for journeyers who’ve passed through countries like Brazil, India and the UK, which are considered “high-risk” for the COVID Delta variant.
Here’s an idea of some places you can visit in 2021:
- Albania: No test, no vaccine, no quarantine required.
- Austria: Test required, exception for the fully vaccinated.
- Belgium: No test, no vaccine, no quarantine required.
- Brazil: Test and declaration of health required, no exception for the fully vaccinated.
- Costa Rica: No test, no vaccine, no quarantine required. Online “health pass” necessary.
- Croatia: Pre-flight test or test with self-isolation upon arrival required, exception for the fully vaccinated.
- Denmark: Test and quarantine required, exception for the fully vaccinated.
- Ecuador: Test required, conditional quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated.
- France: Test required, conditional quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated.
- Germany: Test required, conditional quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated.
- Ghana: Test required, no quarantine, health declaration necessary.
- Greece: Test required, no quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated, traveler locator form necessary.
- Italy: Test required, quarantine required, conditional exceptions for the fully vaccinated, health declaration and traveler locator form necessary.
- Jamaica: Test and quarantine required, no exception for the fully vaccinated, traveler authorization required.
- Morocco: Test required, no quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated, public health form necessary.
- Peru: Test required, no quarantine, traveler locator form and health affidavit necessary.
- Portugal: Test required, conditional quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated, traveler locator form necessary.
- South Africa: Test required, no quarantine.
- Spain: Test required, no quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated, health form necessary.
- Turkey: Test required, conditional quarantine, exception for the fully vaccinated, entry form necessary.
- United Kingdom: Test required, quarantine required, public health locator form necessary.
Can I travel to more countries after both doses of the COVID vaccine?
As the list shows, many nations are using a combination of testing, quarantine and documentation to allow visitors, regardless of vaccine status. Yet, traveling certainly becomes easier after both doses of a vaccine have been administered. Full completion of an approved two-dose vaccine can help you avoid expensive tests and days spent quarantining at your destination.
Traveling while partially vaccinated is possible, but experts suggest waiting it out
The shear amount of information pertaining to travel restrictions around the world can be overwhelming. Although studies show that one part of a two-dose vaccine offers some protection against COVID, experts suggest that travel is safer starting 15 days after the full regimen has been completed. Domestic travel is certainly available to partially vaccinated Americans, but traveling abroad without full vaccine coverage may come with several more steps.
Discover where you can go now
Making plans to get back out there? Find out where borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
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