Many of us have spent the last 15 months sticking close to home, scaling back activities and having far fewer in-person interactions with family and friends. Now that over 275 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. and over 37 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, you may be dusting off your suitcase and looking forward to a change in scenery.
Maybe you’ve booked a weeklong trip to the beach or plane tickets to visit family you haven’t seen in over a year. Or maybe you’re not sure what you feel comfortable doing this summer, especially if you aren’t yet fully vaccinated or will be traveling with others, such as children, who aren’t vaccinated.
“Getting vaccinated is your best bet for a safe, stress-free summer with family and friends,” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. “If you’ll be traveling with others who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, such as young children, be sure to continue taking the necessary precautions to protect the health of your family and those you may come in contact with.”
If you’ll be hitting the road this summer, consider getting vaccinated if you are not already. A vaccine will provide the greatest level of protection and help keep you from getting seriously sick, needing to be hospitalized or dying if you do get COVID-19.
Know the Guidance and Rules for Air Travel
Choosing to get on a plane this summer will require consideration and planning. All travelers age two and older are still required to wear a mask both in the airport and on the plane. Additional guidance is based on vaccination status:
Domestic travel (within the U.S. or to a U.S. territory)
- Fully vaccinated
- Travelers don’t need to get a COVID-19 test before or after travel, unless testing is required by local, state or territorial health authorities.
- Travelers don’t need to self-quarantine after domestic travel.
- Not fully vaccinated
- Get tested for COVID-19 1-3 days before your trip.
- Get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after returning home; stay home and self-quarantine for seven days regardless of the test outcome.
- If the test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
The sheer volume of people in the airport and the tight quarters of an airplane make it very difficult to avoid close contact with people outside your household. If that feels uncomfortable or unsafe based on your family’s circumstances, consider driving to your destination.
- Fully vaccinated travelers don’t need to get tested before leaving the U.S. unless required by their destination.
- Fully vaccinated travelers coming to the U.S. from abroad, including U.S. citizens, are still required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding their flight.
- Fully vaccinated travelers don’t need to self-quarantine in the U.S. after returning home.
Traveling with Unvaccinated Children
“During the summer, it is important that children begin to reestablish connections with their friends, peers and non-parental adults in an environment that supports their development while also consistently practicing the recommended principles to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2.” – American Academy of Pediatrics
While the risk of severe disease is low in children, they can still get COVID-19. Roughly 15,000 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and more than 300 have died – far more than in a typical flu season.
While traveling, make sure everyone in your group age two and older wears a mask, stays six feet from people outside your household, avoids crowds and washes their hands frequently or uses hand sanitizer. These recommendations apply to everyone within the group, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
Some additional questions to consider when traveling with kids:
- Does your child have any underlying health conditions? This may increase risk for more serious illness or complications due to COVID-19.
- What do you plan to do at your destination? Engaging in outdoor activities like camping or hiking is much lower risk than traveling to attend a wedding, family reunion or other large gathering.
- Can your child handle wearing a mask for the duration of an activity? On a plane and in many locations, this will be a requirement. Practice at home prior to air travel.
- If you are visiting others, are they vaccinated?
- Are you staying at a hotel or a private home? It will be more difficult to physically distance in a hotel, especially in common areas such as hotel lobbies.
Whether or not you decide to hit the road this summer, we encourage you to stay safe and follow all related guidelines put in place by your community and its businesses.
[Jamie Becker is the Fund’s Director of Health Promotion.]