Plan, be flexible, travel safely


Strong points:

  • To be clever. Travel only if it makes sense for your situation.
  • domestic can be safer than international.
  • Conduct may be safer than flying.
  • Get fully vaccinated.

June 11, 2021 – Normally, summer travel is about relaxing, spending time outdoors, and putting most worries aside, at least temporarily. Through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, carefree summer travel looks more difficult.

Consider the safest way to get to your destination, what health precautions are still needed, and what the COVID-19 case numbers look like at your destination, experts advise.

“If you are a traveler with a higher risk tolerance and are flexible, this might be a good time to start planning this trip,” Henry Wu, MD, director of the Emory TravelWell Center and Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta said Thursday at a press briefing.

Instead of international travel, staying closer to home via local or national travel might be a better idea for families with unvaccinated children or for people who like more predictability when traveling, Wu said.

For people with health conditions that increase the risk of more severe COVID-19 or for whom vaccines may be less effective, “this still may not be a good time to travel,” he said. declared.

Click here to learn more about how to travel safely

Pack the travel guide – and travel tips

So where ? CDC Travel Health Website is the best place to start, Wu said. “The number of countries that come out of the top tier [travel warning] increases.”

Countries in the midst of severe outbreaks are not good choices, Wu said. of a heart attack, you become a burden on a struggling health care system. “

Summer travel plans also start with vaccination, Wu said. “I strongly advise everyone to get vaccinated when available to you.” Also, don’t forget 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 has suggested that vaccinated people can do most activities without a mask, “I suggest travelers take a more nuanced and informed approach,” Wu said. When you find yourself in situations that present a risk higher transmission of COVID-19 – say a crowded indoor space with a mix of people – I would advise you to wear masks, although they are not required. “

As a reminder, most countries still require a COVID-19 test before traveling, even for the vaccinated. In addition, “remember that you still need a negative test within 3 days of boarding a plane when you return to the United States,” Wu said.

“So this mask could save you a big headache.” “

Variants of concern and single dose protection

A growing body of data suggests that COVID-19 vaccines offer protection against variants of concern, including the delta variant, first identified in India, Wu added.

“Our vaccines are effective in that they can prevent serious illnesses and possibly most delta variant infections,” Wu said. Additionally, when there are “breakthrough” infections – cases where people vaccinated are still infected – most cases are mild.

“I can’t say that all the data is there and that there is 100% certainty,” Wu said, especially if a new variant of concern emerges. He recommends always taking extra precautions, “whether it’s masking in high-risk situations or perhaps avoiding countries with high levels of transmission.”

“Get that 2nd dose”

The situation is obviously more risky for unvaccinated people, but what about people who are between their first and second dose or those who, for whatever reason, only received the first of a dose? two-dose vaccine recommended?

Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to the Biden administration, cited a study preprint which has not yet been peer reviewed that Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against the delta variant with two doses. However, this efficiency drops to 33% with a single dose. The study only looked at the Pfizer vaccine and not the two-dose Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine.

Likewise, the 60% efficacy of two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine also drops to 33% with a single dose.

“My quick advice is to get that second dose, even if it’s late,” Wu said. “It’s definitely something I would do before your trip.

Unless there is a medical reason or allergy that precludes a second dose, “why settle for a partial benefit when you can get the full benefit with this second dose?” Wu asked. “I would definitely understand.”

It’s about the journey and the destination

In general, road trips can be the safest form of travel in the summer, as it allows full control over your surroundings along the way. It’s always essential to avoid crowded spaces when stopping along the way, Wu said.

Others will always opt for the plane. Airports and airlines still require passengers to wear masks, including those who have been vaccinated. The CDC has made masks mandatory on all forms of public transport, including trains, buses, carpools, etc.

Try to minimize how often you take off a mask “if you want to be safer. Even if you are vaccinated, I still like to take these extra precautions.”

Speed ​​regulator

The CDC continues to apply a No sail control for cruise ships that operate in US waters, first published on March 14, 2020. The agency continues to cite the risk of the introduction, transmission and spread of COVID-19.

The cruises are “very interesting,” Wu said. Some cruise lines have mandatory vaccination requirements for all passengers as well as for the crew. “Some have relaxed. [the criteria], some have stepped back a bit, but others have a very clear requirement, ”he added. “Travelers should definitely take note of this before booking a cruise. “

CDC press secretary Scott Pauley said in an email: “We currently recommend that all people avoid traveling on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. As for future cruises, they should continue to monitor our advice for any updates. “

And recently, two Americans on a Celebrity Cruise Line cruise from St. Maarten tested positive for COVID this week, CNN reported.

International packages

The CDC recently lowered its alert levels for more than 100 countries. The move comes after the agency changed its travel advisory criteria. For example, the highest warning, Level 4, now requires 500 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population, compared to 100 cases per 100,000 population.

Not surprisingly, India has not been downgraded. The State Department’s May 5 “Do Not Travel” advisory for India, citing a “Very high level” of COVID-19, still holds.

Another recommended source of information is the State Department website, which provides updated information on COVID-19 and other searchable risks by country.

Pandemic dog delays travel plans

When asked whether or not he would be traveling this summer, Wu replied, “I have been vaccinated for over 6 months and I can’t wait to get on the plane to visit my parents.”

Both of his elderly parents are also vaccinated, so Wu thinks it is safe for him to visit them in Hawaii.

What’s the catch? A relatively new family member. Wu adopted a pandemic dog in the past year “and boarding the dog is proving problematic. That’s what’s keeping me from booking my trip, but I hope to do so within the next month. . “

A new phase of hope

“We are a year and a half away from this pandemic and we are entering an exciting and hopeful new phase,” Wu said.

Because COVID-19 is of global concern, especially for travelers, he welcomed the news that the United States is considering donating an additional 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally. “This is great news, especially as the world is opening up to travelers again.”

WebMD Health News


Henry Wu, MD, Director, Emory TravelWell Center, Associate Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta.

White House COVID-19 Response Task Force, press briefing, June 10, 2021.

Scott Pauley, Press Secretary, CDC.

CNN: “2 passengers on the Celebrity Millennium cruise have tested positive for Covid-19. “


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