- Be smart. Only travel lif it makes sense for your circumstances.
- Domestic may be safer compared to global.
- Driving may be safer than just flying.
- Get fully vaccinated.
June 11, 2021 — In ordinary times, summer traveling is all about unwinding, spending time outdoors, and placing most cares aside, at least temporarily. Through the lens of this COVID-19 pandemic, nevertheless, carefree summer journey appears more challenging.
Consider the safest way for your destination, what health precautions remain crucial, and also exactly what the COVID-19 case numbers look like at your destination, experts advise.
“If you are a traveler with a higher risk tolerance and you are flexible, it may be a good time to start planning that trip,” Henry Wu, MD, director of the Emory TravelWell Center and associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said during a press briefing on Thursday.
Instead of global traveling, sticking closer to home through local or domestic travel may be a better idea for families with unvaccinated children or for people who enjoy more predictability whenever they travel,” Wu said.
For individuals with health conditions that increase risk for more severe COVID-19 or for whom the vaccines might be less effective,”it still might not be a good time to travel,” he explained.
Pack the Travel Guide — and the Travel Guidance
So where to? The CDC’s Travelers’ Health website is the best place to start, Wu said. “The number of nations that are coming off the highest level [travel warning] is increasing.”
Countries in the midst of serious surges are not good choices, Wu said. “Even if you are vaccinated, should you need health care throughout your journey, whether from a car crash or some heart attack you eventually become a burden into a struggling health program.”
Summer travel plans also start with vaccination, Wu said. “I really strongly advise everyone to get vaccinated when it is available for you.” Also, remember to pack your CDC-issued vaccination card and make copies, including one that can be stored on the internet as a backup.
Although the CDC suggested that vaccinated people can do most activities without a mask,”I propose travelers take a more nuanced and informed strategy,” Wu said. When you are in situations that are a higher risk for COVID-19 transmission — say a crowded indoor space with a mix of people — I would advise wearing masks, even if not required.”
As a reminder, most countries still require COVID-19 testing before travel, even for your vaccinated. Additionally,”remember that you still need a negative test within 3 days of boarding a plane on your return to the U.S., Wu said.
“So that mask might help save you a major headache.”
Variants of Concern and Single Dose Protection
More and more data suggest the COVID-19 vaccines offer protection against variants of concern, including the delta variant, first identified in India, Wu added.
“Our vaccines are powerful in that they can prevent acute illness and likely most illnesses from the delta version,” Wu said. Furthermore, when there are “breakthrough” infections — cases where vaccinated people still become infected — most cases are mild.
“I can not say that all of the information is there and there is 100% certainty,” Wu said, especially if a new variant of concern emerges. He recommends always taking extra precautions,”whether it is masking in high-risk situations or maybe avoiding countries with high levels of transmission.”
‘Get That 2nd Dose’
The situation is obviously riskier for the unvaccinated, but what about those people who are in between their first and second doses or those who — for whatever reason — only received the first of a recommended two-dose vaccine?
Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical advisor to the Biden administration, cited a study preprint that has not yet been peer reviewed that said the Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against the delta variant with two doses. However, this effectiveness drops to 33% with one dose. The study only looked at the Pfizer vaccine and not the two-dose Moderna shot or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Similarly, the 60% effectiveness of two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine also drops to 33% with only a single dose.
“My fast the quick advice is to receive that second dose, even if it’s late,” Wu said. “It’s certainly something I would do ahead of your trip.”
Unless there is a medical reason or an allergy that precludes a second dose,”why pay for partial benefit once it is possible to find the complete benefit with this dose?” Wu asked. “I certainly would get it.”
It’s About the Journey and the Destination
In general, road excursions could be the safest form of summer travel because they allow full control over your environment en route. It is still crucial to prevent crowded spaces when you stop along the way, Wu said.
Others will still opt for aviation. Airports and airlines nevertheless require passengers to wear masks, including people who have been vaccinated. The CDC has mandated masks on all forms of public transport, which includes trains, buses, ride-shares, and much more.
Try to minimize