Holiday Travel is Possible This Year With the Right Precautions

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multigenerational family gathered around candlelit table laughing

As preparations for the holiday season across the United States begin, the promise of a family-filled celebration is more within reach than last year given widespread access to vaccinations.

Yet, as of late October, only 77 percent of the population age 12 and older have received one dose of the vaccine — and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending unvaccinated individuals delay travel until they become fully vaccinated.

“The risk of transmission for those unvaccinated in venues indoors where people are unmasked remains high,” says infectious disease specialist Keith Armitage, MD, of the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health.

“For those fully vaccinated, we are seeing some breakthrough cases, but the great majority are mild and the risk of serious illness for those immunocompetent who are vaccinated remains very low,” Dr. Armitage says. “Individuals who have significant immunosuppression may not respond to the vaccines and should continue to take precautions as long as there is ongoing community spread.”

Be Sure to Check Protocols

If you do travel, understanding changing protocols for the locations and venues you plan to visit is most important.

For example, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans now mandate proof of vaccination to attend indoor events and restaurants — a negative COVID test is no longer enough.

Similarly, corporations like Equinox Hotels have mandated that all guests must be vaccinated in order to stay at the property. So make sure you know the rules and precautions of your destination prior to travel.

Wear a Mask

Even if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends wearing a mask while travelling, following state and local distancing mandates, and masking in crowded outdoor settings in areas of high case counts.

Consider taking short road trips with few stops with members of your household or fully vaccinated people. If flying, try to take flights with the fewest stops or layovers.

While many of us are excited to enjoy a holiday meal with friends and family after a 2020 holiday season apart, it’s important to consider CDC protocols for a safe holiday season — including choosing to wear a mask if your holiday celebrations include individuals who are unvaccinated or have weakened immune systems.

In addition, if you are travelling throughout the country, it might be prudent to take additional precautions prior to travel, such as getting tested and avoiding crowded areas before your trip.

After you return from holiday travel, monitor yourself for symptoms. Then isolate yourself and get tested if you develop symptoms.

While many of us are excited for the promise of a more “normal” holiday season than last year, following CDC guidance and staying on top of the changing conditions of the pandemic will ensure we can enjoy the company of our friends and family for many years to come.

Related Links

As borders reopen, and you think about your next trip abroad, make an appointment with the Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine and Global Health. Our globally recognized physicians are ready to help you prepare for your next trip. Learn more about the Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine and Global Health.

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