Should I get tested for COVID-19 before traveling? What there is to know

Here’s how to determine if you’ll need to take a COVID-19 test before your next trip and the best time to do so.

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Getting tested for COVID-19 before travel is an essential precaution for travelers to help reduce the spread of the virus. Basilico Studio Stock / Getty Images

With the holidays quickly approaching, you may be considering traveling to visit friends and family you haven’t seen in a while due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with the disease still with us and the new Omicron variant raising concerns, it’s crucial that travelers continue to exercise caution. This is especially true if you are going to be around people who cannot be vaccinated or those who are at risk of contracting a more serious illness from COVID-19.

Getting tested for COVID-19 before travel is an essential precaution for travelers to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Many overseas destinations require travelers to be tested prior to arrival, but details on testing requirements can vary widely depending on your destination.

Healthline spoke with health and travel experts to help clarify who should be tested for COVID-19 before travel, which tests are most accurate, how to find the testing requirements for your destination, and when you should. do it.

According to latest directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you are fully vaccinated, you do not have to be tested for COVID-19 before traveling, unless your destination requires it.

The CDC says people are usually fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second injection of a two-dose series like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or 2 weeks after an injection of a single-dose vaccine like the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine. .

If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends delaying the trip until you are. But if you have to travel, it is advisable to get tested before and after the trip.

Dr Eric Adkins, an emergency physician at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said it’s generally recommended that you get tested 72 hours before you leave, which gives a lab enough time to process your sample.

“If you choose to get tested for your personal comfort or that of those close to you that you will be around, you can choose to be tested at a shorter time interval, for example 24 to 48 hours,” Adkins said. . “Just be sure to allow enough time for your test to come back before you reunite with your friends or relatives.”

Adkins noted that nucleic acid amplification tests are generally the best type of test to get. They are carried out using PCR technology to detect the presence of the virus, he explained. This lets you know if you have an active COVID-19 infection.

The CDC also recommends getting tested 3-5 days after returning from your trip.

In general, the CDC Also recommends testing whenever you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and when you have been in close contact with someone who has developed COVID-19.

When it comes to travel, testing requirements can vary depending on where you are going, which is why it is important to do your research ahead of time.

For travel within the United States, the CDC lists Contact information for state, territorial, and local health departments to help you find local testing requirements.

According to Sasha Brady, travel expert and reporter at Lonely Planet, some destinations, like Hawaii, require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, especially if you have not been vaccinated.

She also noted that cities, like San Francisco, have required people to provide proof of vaccination before entering places such as restaurants, bars and museums.

“To make sure you have the correct papers before traveling anywhere, check the official tourism website for the state or city you are visiting, as they usually have a section dedicated to COVID-19 protocols. “she said. “City and state government websites will also provide you with the most recent information on pandemic policies, such as testing and immunization requirements. “

Brady said entry requirements for international travel vary depending on your destination and the rules are constantly changing as the pandemic evolves.

Some countries, like the United States, require that all arrivals, even vaccinated passengers, show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flight, ”Brady said. “For many, this is not an obligation.

She suggests consulting the U.S. Embassy in your destination country for the most recent information.

The airline you’re traveling with should also have relevant test information on their website, she said.

To travel to the European Union, you can visit the Re-Open EU site.

Adkins noted that while a COVID-19 test is not explicitly required for a particular destination, it’s a good idea to get tested before and after your trip so you can stay as up to date as possible on your status. and take appropriate precautions if necessary.

With the rise of the Omicron variant, experts are still learning about the risks it can present to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Testing, wearing masks, and having a vaccination or booster if you are eligible remain the most effective ways to lower your risk of COVID-19 and help stop the spread.

We understand that you are concerned about your health and safety while away from home and the safety of the communities you visit around the world. As travel regulations and requirements evolve, we’re here to help you navigate this complex and often confusing landscape. Whether you are driving to a natural wonder in your state or flying around the world, we can help protect yourself and protect others.

Check back often for tips on how to protect yourself and loved ones on your next trip.

About Nereida Nystrom

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