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Do I Need to Get Tested for COVID-19 Before Traveling?

After spending the past year at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all ready to do some traveling. Whether you’re visiting family you haven’t seen in many, many months or finally taking that honeymoon trip you planned way back in 2019, it’s a good idea to check in about COVID-19 testing requirements before you leave, as some destinations require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry. Let’s break down what the different travel restrictions are at this point:

For Vaccinated Travelers

Being fully vaccinated means it has been two or more weeks since you received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need a negative COVID-19 test to travel by air domestically (within the United States).

While many international destinations are still closed to American travelers, there are plenty of options available if you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Most of these destinations require proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of your flight. (Some countries will waive this requirement if you can show proof of your vaccination status.) All travelers, even those who are fully vaccinated, need to receive a negative COVID-19 test result three days before arriving in the United States.

For Unvaccinated Travelers

Unvaccinated individuals can travel domestically without showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test. However, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested before and after traveling.

Currently, the CDC urges unvaccinated travelers to delay international travel for the time being. If you choose to travel internationally, however, the same rules apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers: You’ll need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of your flight and before you return to the United States.

What’s more, no matter if you take a domestic or international trip, you should take the following precautions afterward:

  • Receive a COVID-19 test three to five days after your trip.
  • Self-quarantine at home for a full seven days after your return (extend that timeline to 10 days if you choose to not get tested).
  • Avoid being around those who are considered high-risk for complications from COVID-19 for at least 14 days.

Traveling During COVID-19

No matter where you decide to travel this year, you’ll always want to follow CDC guidelines to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose whenever you’re indoors or around a large group of people.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid crowded restaurants, bars, and poorly ventilated spaces (especially if you are unvaccinated).

Need a COVID-19 Test Before Traveling?

PhysicianOne Urgent Care is the facility to visit for a COVID-19 test before traveling. We offer the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which is required by airlines. The test involves a nasopharyngeal swab that collects throat and nose secretions to determine if COVID-19’s specific genetic material is present in your body. Results are typically available within 24 hours.

PhysicianOne Urgent Care has locations in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, all of which are open seven days per week with extended hours. You can receive the COVID-19 test you need quickly and conveniently so you can focus on more important things, like making sure your suitcase is packed and ready to go. And if you’d like to receive your COVID-19 vaccine before you travel, our facilities in Medford and Waltham, Massachusetts, are offering the vaccine now, with more locations to be added in the future.

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