WASHINGTON — Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 if I'm vaccinated?
No, you can skip routine testing, with some exceptions.
The latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you don't need to be tested or to quarantine if you're fully vaccinated, even if you’ve been exposed to someone who was sick. An exception is if you develop COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and fatigue.
The updated guidance reflects recent studies showing vaccinated people face very little risk of serious disease. Even if you get an infection, you'll be less likely to spread it to others and any symptoms will likely be milder.
As a result, the CDC says vaccinated people can also be excluded from routine workplace screening, though many companies aren't tracking employees' vaccination status. Screening is still recommended for people working or living in homeless shelters or prisons, due to the higher risk of outbreaks.
The relaxed guidelines also don't apply to doctors, nurses and other health care workers, whose employers might still require testing. Guidance may vary by country.
U.S. citizens returning from abroad also still have to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flights home, regardless of their vaccination status. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should still isolate for 10 days, the CDC says.
As vaccinations increase, many experts expect the CDC to further relax testing guidelines, even for vaccinated people with symptoms. Many common colds and viruses can cause symptoms resembling COVID-19, experts say, which could lead to a wave of unnecessary testing in the fall.
“As we race to open back up, a whole variety of infections that we don’t routinely test for are going to cause those same symptoms,” said Dr. Rebecca Wurtz of the University of Minnesota. “You should wash your hands and stay home from work, but there’s no need to run out to be tested.”