By Sara Bondell - December 17, 2021
According to the Transportation Security Administration, security screened almost 21 million travelers at U.S. airports during the 10-day Thanksgiving holiday period. After most travel was halted last year due to COVID-19, the agency predicts this December will see pre-pandemic levels of air travel during the holidays.
Many may have booked their holiday trips before the emergence of the Omicron variant last month.
“It’s a concern and with public transportation you have people traveling around you and congregating less than 6 feet in areas that aren’t as well ventilated,” said Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. “While there is that concern, if you continue to follow the guidelines of masking, social distancing and vaccination, it will give you the best protection possible.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. You should keep your travel plans if you are fully vaccinated, but the agency recommends delaying any trips if you are not.
You are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of a Novavax (or Covovax) COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a phase 3 clinical trial
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccinesadministered at least 17 days apart*
*The CDC has not recommended the use of mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine primary series. However, such strategies are increasingly common in many countries outside of the United States. Therefore, for the purpose of interpreting vaccination records for travel to the United States, the CDC will accept combinations of accepted COVID-19 vaccines.
The CDC also recommends:
- Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public if you are not vaccinated. Those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
- Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated spaces.
- If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
- Get testing if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
If you are traveling internationally, check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before you go. Some countries may have their own entry and exit requirements. For all air passengers 2 years or older boarding a flight from a foreign country to the U.S.:
- You will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than one day before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.
- If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed health care provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).