CDC updates guidance, says unvaccinated foreign tourists under 18 will not need to


Unvaccinated children visiting the United States will not need to quarantine upon arrival under the country’s new travel rules, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday.

The new U.S. air travel system, which goes into effect Nov. 8, requires vaccinations among most foreign tourists. Some travelers – such as children under 18 and people with a history of negative reactions to COVID-19 vaccines – are exempt from the vaccination requirement. 

According to an amended document signed by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, noncitizens under 18 years old who are not immigrating to the U.S. will still need to fill out an attestation form that says they will arrange to get tested for the coronavirus three to five days after arrival, but they will not need to promise to arrange a seven-day quarantine period after arrival. 

“Based on the potential difficulty that self-quarantine may pose to children under 18 years of age especially when accompanied by a vaccinated parent or guardian who is not required to self-quarantine, CDC has determined that self-quarantine should not be required,” the order reads. 

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Foreign travelers under 18 years old also do not have to agree to receive a vaccination after arrival “given the still evolving circumstances of vaccination for children,” according to the document. They will still need to quarantine if they develop COVID-19 symptoms or their post-arrival test is positive.

CDC documents released Monday said all foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. who are exempt from the vaccine mandate would need to quarantine seven days upon arrival or potentially face fines or penalties.

Parents planning to visit the U.S. took to social media, questioning whether the quarantine mandate applied to children, many of whom are too young to get inoculated. Others worried they would have to cancel planned family trips to the country. 

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The updated guidance differs slightly from statements made earlier this week by Cindy Friedman, the CDC’s chief of the traveler’s health branch, who said unvaccinated children would only be exempt from quarantine if they were traveling with vaccinated adults. 

“CDC believes that this approach fairly balances the interests of families traveling to the United States with protecting the public health,” the updated CDC document says. “CDC guidance strongly recommends vaccination for all eligible children under 18.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz

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