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Health expert says to weigh risks when traveling internationally

The CDC adds 62 additional countries to the low COVID-19 risk classification.

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finally giving travelers the go-ahead to book that long awaited trip to Italy, France, or even Japan. A total of 62 international destinations were deemed low COVID19 risk by the CDC on Monday, but a top international health leader said to pump the brakes before booking that flight.

“As a travel health epidemiologist, I’m always suggesting for the lowest risk situations that fit your needs," explained Epidemiologist Henry Wu.

On Thursday, lines began to stack up inside the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport as travelers shared with 11Alive that they're eager to indulge in travel again.

“I’ve bought 8 tickets for this same flight – just trying to get out of here," explained a Delta customer.

"I feel like I’ve taken all the necessary precautions. I’ve got the vaccine and all my necessary supplies to stay safe, another traveler said.

Wu, the director of Emory's TravelWell, a research leader in travel medicine and tropical diseases, said travelers need to approach this new phase with the following guidance in mind.

"It boils down to thinking about yourself and your personal risk tolerance.”

Wu also strongly advised that international travelers be vaccinated, and review CDC's most up to date travel recommendations. He suggested that vaccinated travelers carry a digital and paper copy of their COVID vaccination card. 

Since all international travelers are required to get a negative COVID test prior to their return flight to the U.S. He suggested still practicing hand hygiene, mask wearing, and distancing even if you're vaccinated. 

There are still limitations for entry into the U.S. for non-citizens coming from countries like Iran and China, among a list of others.