Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.
With easing restrictions and more people getting vaccinated just in time for summer, travel is becoming more of a reality than a dream. While it’s tempting to run headlong into your first summer adventure since sheltering in place, the CDC, the State of Texas, and the U.S. State Department are encouraging everyone to keep these safety tips in mind:
- Plan your trip around your vaccination status. The CDC advises postponing travel until you’re fully vaccinated.
- Only travel with members of your immediate circle — friends or family — who aren’t at high risk for contracting COVID-19 or developing complications due to the virus.
- Pack necessary medications and health information.
- Familiarize yourself with your destination’s COVID-19 situation.
Plan Your Trip Around Your Vaccination Status
People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are allowed to travel within the United States and some international destinations but are advised to continue taking safety precautions.
When are you “fully vaccinated?” A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) or two weeks after the second dose of any two-dose vaccine.
Those who are fully vaccinated don’t need to get tested — unless it is a requirement at international destinations — before or upon their return from travel. However, for travelers returning to the United States, the CDC recommends a negative test before boarding their return flight. This revolves around the possibility that fully vaccinated people may still become infected with COVID-19, paired with the lack of vaccine coverage and new virus strains in other countries.
Fully vaccinated people are now also free to resume pre-pandemic activities, such as not wearing masks and keeping six feet away from other people, except where they are required by “federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” Research well in advance what regulations are in place at your travel destination, and pack masks just in case.
Traveling with minors? The CDC recommends adolescents get vaccinated following the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 12 and up.
Not vaccinated yet? Keep safe by sticking to the same travel safety guidelines before the vaccine rollout: Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing frequently — or better yet, consider waiting until you’re fully vaccinated.
Go On a Family-Friendly Trip With Your COVID-19 Bubble
Another safe way to go about your summer adventures is to travel with close family or your COVID-19 bubble. Consider embracing the outdoors, as social distancing is easier to do in open spaces. Post-vaccine summer vacation ideas can mean going on a road trip, camping, or picnicking — as long as you’re mindful that your bubble is conscious about keeping to yourselves, especially within indoor spaces where the virus can readily spread. Additionally, avoid going on cruises — the CDC still strongly discourages travel on cruise ships (river cruises included) worldwide.
Include Medication and Health Information With Your Packing Necessities
Whether you’re traveling by yourself or with your bubble, be sure to pack the right amount of medication for the whole trip — and a little extra, just in case. Don’t forget to pack additional health info, such as vaccine cards, COVID-19 test results info, as well as your doctor’s contact details. Bring along enough masks to go around, as well as gloves and hand sanitizer (here are the ones not approved for use by the FDA.) Don’t forget to bring lots of water, as Texas summers are often a significant concern, and we need to be cautious about heatstroke and sun exposure. Here’s a quick and handy recommended packing list:
- First-aid kit
- CDC-issued vaccination card
- COVID-19 test results
- Hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol
Should I get a vaccine passport? While not a federal requirement, some states like California and Hawaii are looking into mandating vaccine passports for travel, with New York having just released their own. Be sure to research ahead of time whether your travel destination requires a vaccine passport so you can prepare.
Plan Ahead by Reading About the COVID-19 Data and Restrictions at Your Destination
When you plan your vacation, take the time to look into the COVID-19 information at your destination. The CDC constantly updates state-by-state COVID-19 data as well as health notices for other countries, so be sure to review them before your trip.
While the CDC has lifted the two-week stay-at-home period following trips outside the country or state, they still recommend that you self-monitor for symptoms following your return home. The CDC recommends isolating for ten days after your return and staying away from people with a higher risk of COVID-19 complications and from those who aren’t fully vaccinated yet.
Don’t forget to talk to your St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physician about your travel plans; they can make sure you are up to date on your medications and vaccines.