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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 27, 2021

Fully vaccinated? The rules haven’t changed for international travel

If Your Time is short

  • The CDC issued an order in January requiring all air passengers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation that they recovered from the disease within the past three months to board a flight to the United States. 
     
  • These rules haven’t changed.
 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that all air passengers from abroad, including people who are fully vaccinated, are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result from no more than three days before they travel, or documentation that they recovered from COVID-19 within the previous three months, before they can board a flight to the United States. 

A screenshot of this information from the CDC’s website is being shared on social media and some users are claiming that the agency only recently — and secretly — updated its international travel recommendations to include vaccinated travelers in this rule. 

Text above the screenshot says that it doesn’t matter if you’ve had the vaccine, "you STILL need a negative test to travel." 

"So the CDC just snuck that in this week," one account wrote sharing the screenshot on Instagram on May 15. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The CDC page on international travel recommendations during the pandemic was updated on May 19, but requiring vaccinated passengers to get a COVID-19 test isn’t new. The CDC announced these rules affecting all air passengers nearly four months earlier on Jan. 12, 2021.

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Here’s what the page with international travel recommendations said on May 27 (emphasis theirs): 

"Before you arrive in the United States all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United State."

Reviewing archived versions of the web page, we found that language has appeared on the site since at least April 2, the first date for which there are archived versions of the page.

But news reports show that this guidance has been around for even longer. On March 8, ABC News and USA Today reported that the CDC had provided new recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans that day but it didn’t update or relax travel measures and advised against traveling at all.

ABC then reported that "if people plan to travel they should get vaccinated if possible, get tested before and after the trip, wear a well fitting mask, and maintain distance from others when possible, the guidance says." 

We rate the claim that the CDC in May quietly changed its recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers False.

 

Our Sources

Instagram post, May 25, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International travel during COVID-19, updated May 19, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International travel during COVID-19, updated April 2, 2021

Internet archive search, May 25, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States, May 7, 2021

ABC News, CDC not endorsing travel for vaccinated individuals, saying it risks a surge in cases, March 8, 2021

USA Today, New CDC guidelines for vaccinated people: Agency still advises against travel, March 8, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Order: Requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for air passengers arriving in the United States, Jan. 12, 2021

 

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Fully vaccinated? The rules haven’t changed for international travel

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