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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hasn’t changed its tune when it comes to unvaccinated people traveling just because it’s nearly Labor Day.
The agency continues to recommend that people who have yet to get the shot, or shots depending on the vaccine, delay any travel plans until they are fully inoculated against COVID-19. This week, the CDC encouraged those who remain unvaccinated to stay home this upcoming holiday weekend. “First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated at a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday, CNN reported.
The recommendation comes as CDC data shows that of the Americans age 12 and older who are eligible for the vaccine, 38.5 percent are not fully vaccinated. Perhaps more troubling, CNN reported that a CDC vaccine adviser recently showed that unvaccinated individuals are 16 times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 compared to vaccinated people.
According to the CDC, people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 and can travel safely within the United States. However, inoculated individuals are still advised to wear a face mask in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, crowded outdoor settings and during activities with close contact with unvaccinated people.
The agency has also laid out guidance for unvaccinated travelers, advising that they take a viral test one to three days before their trip and postpone plans and isolate in the event of a positive result. During travel, unvaccinated people should always wear a mask secured tightly over their mouth and nose in public settings, avoid crowds and maintain at least six feet of distance from people they aren’t traveling with and wash or sanitize their hands frequently.
The CDC also encourages unvaccinated travelers to get tested with a viral test between three and five days after their trip and to stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel even if they test negative. If they choose not to get tested, they should quarantine for a full 10 days after their trip.
“As Labor Day weekend approaches—a traditional peak for leisure travel—the CDC recommendation to unvaccinated individuals is a further reminder that vaccination is the fastest path to normalcy for all, including for widespread travel. The vaccines have proven safe and highly effective, and now with full FDA approval, there is no reason why anyone should further delay getting a shot. Accordingly, the CDC says vaccinated Americans who adhere to mask usage can continue to travel,” U.S. Travel Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement Wednesday.
“In 2020 alone, the pandemic resulted in a $500 billion loss in travel spending that cost the U.S. $1.1 trillion in economic output. Great strides have been made to combat the virus and restore the U.S. economy, and we cannot afford to backslide,” she added. “The U.S. Travel Association urges everyone who is eligible and not yet vaccinated to do so immediately—to protect themselves, their neighbors and to help put us on the path to full recovery.”
Approximately 51 million Americans are expected to travel for Labor Day in 2021.