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Half of Americans over 18 are fully vaccinated: What that means for travel

June 12, 2021
5 min read
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Over 50% of Americans over the age of 18 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracker.

All Americans 12 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, even as the U.S. passes a grim milestone of nearly 600,000 COVID-19 related deaths. While we haven't yet reached the end of the pandemic, there’s some cause for hope.

We still don’t know the percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity, which varies with each disease. Still, 50% of American adults being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is a strong sign that there’s an end in sight -- and that travel may bounce back sooner than expected.

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State of the vaccine

(Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It’s clear that COVID-19 vaccines will play a large role in restarting travel and will even be required by certain destinations or tour operators.

A major hiccup came on April 13 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that they recommended pausing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after several women developed a rare blood clot disorder linked to the vaccine.

The CDC is once again recommended the shot as of April 23, but it will now come with a warning label about the “exceedingly uncommon, but potentially dangerous” clotting, after further analysis.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one of three approved for emergency use in the United States; the other two are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. There are also several more vaccines either in development or available worldwide, such as AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom, the Sputnik V in Russia and China’s CoronaVac.

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When can I travel again after getting vaccinated?

(Photo by Niels Wenstedt/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, many travelers have asked: "When can I travel?"

Even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you’ll still have to wait a while before hitting the road. The CDC says people should wait two weeks after getting the second vaccine dose (when applicable) to travel, as it takes time to build immunity against the virus.

The CDC considers a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

The State Department says it still recommends U.S. citizens reconsider traveling abroad, and has added approximately 80% of the world’s countries to its highest advisory. This guidance differs from what the CDC has publicly said about travel. The CDC in early April announced that fully vaccinated Americans can travel at “low-risk” to themselves.

Related: These are all the countries Americans can visit right now

Will a vaccine be required to travel?

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Some destinations, travel providers and venues -- specifically those dependent on tourism -- have even said the vaccine could be a travel requirement.

Several countries have indicated that they’ll allow vaccinated travelers to skip mandatory quarantines. For Americans, who were turned away from many countries at the onset of the pandemic, being vaccinated could make it much easier to travel.

The Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean, for example, is open to travelers from all countries who have received full doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

France is also reopening soon.

According to the U.S. Department of State, “The president of France has laid out a reopening plan that would allow ‘foreign tourists’ with a health pass (tied to being fully vaccinated or having a negative COVID-19 PCR test) to enter France beginning June 9, 2021, if COVID-19 levels remain under control.”

The U.S. Embassy doesn’t have more information about what the “health pass” will be or how to get it. Bookmark the website for the French Embassy in the United States to check for additional intel.

That means tourists can soon return to La République. One of the most reassuring things about the reopening is the fact that European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune, on May 16, said France would offer free PCR tests to tourists.

And in recent weeks, more than a dozen cruise lines have announced plans to require passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine before sailing.

What’s clear is that having proof that you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine could very well be a new requirement for entry to some destinations, similar to the way proof of yellow fever vaccination is already necessary to travel to some countries.

In situations when it's not mandatory, some destinations and travel providers may accept proof of vaccination in place of COVID-19 test requirements or lengthy quarantines.

Related: Here's what we know about the EU's vaccine passports

Bottom line

COVID-19 vaccination programs are in full swing in countries all over the world. Flights are filling up and rental cars are selling out, and that’s partly the result of the success of COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S.

We’re a long way from the end of the pandemic, but half of Americans older than 18 being vaccinated means that there’s hope for a return of at least some aspects of pre-COVID-19 normalcy.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.