Vaccinated or not, holiday travelers pack RDU as CDC issues new guidance

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Good Friday night, Terminal 2 at RDU looked almost like the days before the pandemic: A crush of travelers at baggage claim, including Casey Perrault and her daughter who just touched down from southern California to spend Easter weekend with Perrault's mom and dad in Nash County. An annual tradition that the pandemic put on hold a year ago.

"My husband is in the military and so he couldn't get leave. They weren't allowing military to go anywhere. So, we had to stay. It was the first Easter I'd ever missed being with my family," said Perrault whose trip comes as the CDC issued those updated travel recommendations: Fully-vaccinated Americans can travel "at low risk to themselves" -- as long they keep taking precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing. But, the agency still warns against non-essential travel.



"We haven't changed our guidance for non-essential travel at all," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. "We are not recommending travel at this time, especially for unvaccinated individuals."

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RDU asked travelers what it would take to make them feel safer boarding a flight to which the majority answered: a COVID-19 vaccine.



Brandy Paulson is not signing up for the shot yet. She just landed at RDU from Oklahoma to see her brother for the holiday.

"I think I'd rather wait to get vaccinated until other people who want and need it more are able to do that," said Paulson who has already recovered from a mild bout with COVID-19.

Callandra McNeill arrived at RDU from Dallas as she hurries to ready for a move to Fayetteville. She admits she had some concerns at first about flying unvaccinated.

"I'm not vaccinated. I am planning to once I relocate here," she said. "I wore my mask the entire trip; followed all the guidelines; did what they told me to do. And, I feel pretty safe."

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The CDC updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel domestically without getting tested for COVID or going into quarantine afterward.



Back at baggage claim, Casey Perrault is just happy to back home for Easter. Even if it had to be minus her military husband.

"He's deployed right now in Japan. So we booked (this trip) as soon as we could. We were gonna come no matter what," Perrault said.

If it seems like the CDC is saying two different things at once -- you're not wrong. There's still the unanswered question of whether vaccinated people could still, even briefly, transmit COVID to an unvaccinated person.

Until the science clears up that question, public health officials are wary about simply telling vaccinated Americans to do as they please.
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