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Since the pandemic broke out in the first quarter of 2020, the U.S. government has issued many travel restrictions for both domestic and international air travel. And to make things worse, these restrictions constantly change which leaves people asking a lot of questions – Do I need to be vaccinated to take a flight in the US? Is Covid testing still needed? Are masks required on planes?
The US government plans to vaccinate 70% of its total population in order to reach herd immunity and as of this writing, only 54% of US citizens have been vaccinated. It might take a while to reach that goal of 70% so travelers might have to deal with a few more travel restrictions in the following months to come.
So, Do I Need To Be Vaccinated To Take A Flight In The US
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention allows both vaccinated and unvaccinated US citizens to travel domestically. There are no vaccine mandates but the CDC recommends quarantine and Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated travelers.
So to answer the question “Do I need to be vaccinated to fly to the US?”, it’s a NO. Travelers are NOT required to present vaccination certificates if they plan to fly within the US but they’re required to wear face masks inside airports and planes.
Take note that some cities or states might have different protocols regarding the wearing of masks so better check state websites prior to visiting . The current mask mandate ended on September 13, 2021 but the government is planning to extend the mandate through January 18, 2021 to battle the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
Vaccine Mandates A Possibility For US Domestic Travelers
With the FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, various organizations across the U.S. have issued vaccination mandates that can force millions of unvaccinated US citizens to either get the shot or get tested weekly. Most of the mandates were implemented on federal institutions and large private institutions such as the U.S. military, New York City public school staff, CVS Health, and Disney World.
However, there are no current mandates for US domestic travel but it’s possible that the government will impose it in the future. White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has expressed his support for vaccine mandates on air travel. During an interview in the Skimm podcast, Fauci said “I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated.”
Other countries have already pushed for vaccine mandates this year so it’s only a matter of time that the US might do it too. Canada has required all people on domestic air, land, and sea travel to be vaccinated and France has also imposed a rule that would require people to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covi-19 test for domestic travel and entering public establishments
Vaccination Requirements For US Citizens Traveling Internationally
US citizens traveling to other countries will have to check the health and travel protocols for the countries they are visiting. Vaccination requirements vary for different countries because some require full vaccination, partial vaccination or just a negative Covid-19 test. You can check our vaccination guide for international travel for US citizens here.
Unvaccinated US citizens and permanent residents returning to the US can still enter the country but stricter health and travel protocols will be put in place. This September 2021, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said that a negative Covid-19 test result is required before and after their flight to the US.
Can Vaccinated Foreigners Enter The US?
Regardless of vaccination status, the US government has imposed travel bans in countries that have had Covid-19 surges such as Brazil, China, Iran, South Africa, India, Europe’s Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated foreign nationals who are not included in the travel ban may enter the US as long as they negative Covid-19 test or documentation that shows proof of recovery. In fact, vaccination tourism became a trend a few months back as some states have allowed foreign nationals to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
But the US government is planning to impose a new rule that will only allow foreign nationals who are vaccinated and have a negative Covid-19 test that’s taken within three days prior to their flight to the US. The new rules will take effect in November to give enough time for travel agencies and airlines to adjust and disseminate information. All travelers traveling to the US will also be required to provide information for contact tracing purposes.
What does this mean for foreign travelers?
This means good news for all vaccinated foreign travelers especially from countries that were included in the previous travel ban but bad news for all unvaccinated foreign travelers.
Foreigners Entering The US By Land Are Prohibited
The US government has barred all travelers from Canada or Mexico who are traveling by land, except for essential travel and returning US citizens. The ban was implemented back in March 2020 and will end on October 21, 2021.
Vaccinated US citizens may enter Canada either by land or air. Meanwhile, travelers from the US may enter Mexico even without a vaccination certificate or a negative Covid-19 test.
The FDA approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is a major factor for all the vaccination mandates implemented by the US government. The government is also hoping that this approval might encourage people who are hesitant to take the vaccine.
But whether people take the vaccine or not, having full approval for a vaccine means that the government will now have the authority to issue vaccination requirements for various community sectors.
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