What you need to know about COVID vaccines and travel

Do I need to be vaccinated to travel to the United States?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends delaying travel until you are fully immunized (i.e., up to two weeks after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two-dose Pfizer vaccine or Moderna), to protect you against COVID-19 and prevent its spread. If you have a serious medical condition or a weakened immune system, consult your doctor before travelling. (You also shouldn’t travel if you feel sick, have tested positive for COVID-19, have your test result pending, or have been in contact with someone infected with the virus.)

Hawaii is the only state that currently requires visitors to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to avoid mandatory quarantine. Travelers must create a digital account to enter information for their upcoming trip and upload their vaccination or test data.

Some major cities, including Washington, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York and San Francisco, require proof of vaccination to eat in a restaurant or attend a concert.

Do you have to be fully vaccinated to travel on a cruise?

In a word, yes. With most cruise ships resuming operations in spring 2021 or later, all major lines require passengers to be fully immunized, with a few exceptions, although these standards vary by company, ship and location. destination. Additionally, passengers must present proof of full vaccination to enter certain countries or facilities, such as museums and restaurants.

However, it should be noted that the CDC recommends avoiding cruises, whether domestic or international, even if the traveler is fully immunized and has received a booster dose. On Dec. 30, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases on board ships, the CDC raised the advisory level for cruise ships to its Category 4 (“do not travel”). Cases of COVID-19 have been reported on nearly every ship (shown in a color-coded chart, posted on the CDC’s English website).

Do I need to have received a booster dose to be able to travel?

In most cases, travelers do not need to have received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, although this may be about to change. The Governor of Hawaii recently stated that the state may in the near future require travelers from other US states and territories to receive a booster dose in addition to the full vaccination.

And the Spanish government has announced that from February 1, any traveler from the United States will have to demonstrate full vaccination, received at least 14 days before leaving for Spain, in addition to the booster dose if more 270 days have passed from the time you received the last dose of the vaccine.

The CDC recommends that anyone wishing to travel, including those who have had a previous case of COVID-19, receive a booster dose once they meet the criteria. This dose could take between one and two weeks to provide the maximum level of protection.

What are the COVID-19 vaccination regulations for international travel?

According to the CDC, those who are fully vaccinated can travel internationally, but many countries have different rules for vaccination, testing or quarantine.

For example, in France they require full vaccination and proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Authorities will scan your vaccination information to create a health passport with a QR code, which you must present to enter any restaurant or museum in France. In Greece, it is not necessary to prove vaccination to enter the country, but it is necessary to be able to enter certain public access areas, such as restaurants.

In the meantime, due to high rates of COVID-19 cases, the CDC does not recommend travel to the two countries mentioned (among many others around the world), whether or not the traveler is vaccinated.

In other words, those interested in traveling abroad should plan carefully and stay informed of applicable regulations, says Keyes. “Not only is there more bureaucracy and documentation, but the rules change very frequently.”

It is recommended to consult, among others, the following resources on the Internet:

  • The CDC map that shows COVID-19 risk levels, travel recommendations, and restrictions in effect at each destination.
  • The website of the United States Embassy in the destination country. At usembassy.gov, the Department of State publishes a list of U.S. embassies by country, as well as a map with specific information for each country regarding its restrictions, requirements, and security levels. COVID-19 risk (sometimes indicating a higher risk than the CDC indicates, often due to factors other than COVID-19).
  • The official website of the government or tourism entity of the country of destination.
  • The airline’s website, which should provide information on flight requirements and possibly the country you plan to travel to.

Should I bring my vaccination record? printed?

Some businesses or tourist facilities may require you to present a printed vaccination card, but many places will accept a digital image (meaning having a photo of the card on your smartphone is sufficient).

There is no national registry for electronic health records, although many states, such as California and New York, are issuing digital health passports so people can better manage their COVID-19-related data. If you received the vaccine outside of the state where you live, it may be difficult to obtain a digital passport as records vary from state to state.

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