Children, Including Unvaccinated, Can Enter US Without Quarantine: CDC

By Tammy Hung
Tammy Hung
Tammy Hung
October 31, 2021 Updated: October 31, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified on Oct. 30 that foreign nationals under the age of 18 can enter the United States without self-isolating for seven days after arrival, effective Nov. 8.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has amended an Oct. 25 order (pdf), citing the “difficulty” posed to families traveling from countries where vaccines may not be approved for children between 12 and 16 years of age. The order doesn’t apply to immigrant minors, who are required to be vaccinated before receiving a visa.

Airlines were among those who had pressed for the changes for foreign children, saying it would harm international tourism if children had to self-quarantine upon arrival.

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

Individuals below 18 years of age will still have to be tested for COVID-19, however, three to five days after arriving in the United States and self-isolate if they develop symptoms or test positive.

As of Nov. 8, only foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to enter the United States.

The CDC has granted exemptions for a few groups, including individuals with documented medical contraindications to the vaccine and those traveling from countries with limited vaccine ability. Any unvaccinated people who are part of clinical trials are also exempt.

However, these individuals will be required to self-isolate for seven days and undergo testing unless they’ve recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days of arrival.

Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies won’t qualify for an exemption and will still require proof of vaccination, according to CDC guidelines.

Visitors will be granted entry two weeks after undergoing the full series of a vaccination scheme, even if they’re traveling for nonessential reasons, such as visiting friends and family or for tourism purposes.

The order also requires foreign visitors to be vaccinated within 60 days of arriving in the United States or within a timeframe deemed “medically appropriate” by the CDC.

The CDC says it will grant entry to those who have received two doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart. Approved vaccines include the Janssen/J&J, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac vaccines.

As nonessential travel resumes, travelers should expect longer wait times, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in an Oct. 29 statement.

“We are pleased to take another step toward easing travel restrictions at our borders in a manner that strengthens our economy and protects the health and safety of the American public,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “We continue working closely with our international partners to sustainably implement new rules for resuming travel.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

Tammy Hung